Miedo y felicidad. Fear and happiness.

Yesterday in Spanish class we did an exercise with names of famous people. We had to say if we knew them, who they were, if we liked what they were doing. I knew Penélope Cruz of course, actriz and Alejandro González Iñáritu, director de cine. Leo Messi, futbolista, Rafa Nadal, tenista, Shakira (none of us liked her), Gabriel García Márquez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Javier Bardem. I never heard of Zoé Valdés, writer.

Today I walked to the language school and saw some books on top of the container just next to the door. One in particular caught my eye. “La nada cotidiana”. The everyday nothing. Written by Zoé Valdés.
I put it in my bag and after the class, which we ended by having to write down five reasons for being happy, I sat outside on a bench in the small square a few hundred meters down the road. It was sunny and opposite of me some other people were enjoying the sun. I thought of the reasons I gave. Porque el cielo eres sempre azul aquí. Because the sky is always blue here. Porque ser infeliz es una pérdida de tiempo. Because being unhappy is a waste of time. Porque no ser pobre y tener un lugar en la vida. Because I’m not poor and I’ve got a place to live.

A homeless man was enjoying the sun as well, getting warm, and two elderly men who seemed to know him joined him, one of them reading the newspaper, from time to time exchanging some words with the other two. It was cold in the places the sun didn’t reach and people walking by were dressed in winter coats, dark colours mainly, grey and black and here and there a touch of dark blue. But then a young man entered the square, walking in the sunlight, dressed in immaculate white. White jeans, white boots, a white leather jacket with a white fur colour. On his chest he was wearing a newborn, a tiny baby, wrapped in a white blanket. I thought he looked like a modern angel.

I opened Zoé Valdés book. It started with a quote by Marguerite Yourcenar. Tener miedo del futuro, eso nos facilita la muerte. Fear of the future makes death easier.

Until yesterday I didn’t know what “miedo” meant. But I saw the word in the newspaper after class when I read about Zygmunt Bauman who had died, about his concept of liquid modernity, applicable to all aspects of life, “desde el amor líquido al miedo líquido”, “ranging from liquid love to liquid fear”.

Only three days of learning Spanish and fear is everywhere. I am afraid that “miedo” is a word I will never forget, unlike many other ones I am learning these days. But somehow it will always be connected with the image of this man reflecting the sunlight, carrying his child through the city. And being happy, sitting in the sun, aware of having a home to return to.

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