I wasn’t a Spanish major, but I do remember learning when to use ser, “to be,” and when to use estar, also “to be.” The former has to do with identity — I am a wife and mother – and the latter is used for a temporary state or condition — I am tired of winter (Spanish majors, feel free to expound).
I see “happiness” as a state of being, a condition that comes and goes based on what’s going on external to me. If you’d asked me in my 20s or 30s which I was pursuing, I’d have said that happiness was higher on my scale. Who wants boring old stodgy contentment when you could have euphoric, exciting happiness?
But now? Now I know that dramatic highs and lows take a toll on my body and mind. Now I place a higher value on contentment, a trait I view as more enduring and one that comes from within. I’ve been cultivating inner contentment, which means I accept what is even as I desire to improve it.
I’d like to be able to say — even if it’s not proper Spanish — yo soy una persona contenta. I am a contented person.
We often ponder the question “Who Am I?” But for the first time the larger question was posed to me:
If the question were asked by someone from outer space — WHO ARE WE? Who are we humans, we citizens of planet Earth?
The conversation was with my Canadian friend Helene Tremblay. Helene has spent decades to answer it; indeed, arriving at the answer and sharing it with others is her life’s work. Through her books and speaking engagements, she shares her experiences living with typical families all over the world (116 countries so far!). She says on Human Space in an article titled Showing Humanity to Youmanity:
People come to life on our planet and die without knowing their own human story. People die not knowing where the earth was in the universe, not knowing where they were on the planet and with whom they had shared their time on earth From this fact, I gave myself the mission of presenting Humanity to Humanity.
I’m curious what you think.Who are we?
What measures will you use, what factors will you include as you mull over your answer? Family? Wealth? Language? Culture? Creativity? Destruction? Commonalities? Differences? Our reach? Our basest nature? Theology? Cosmology? Love ?War? Fear? Consciousness?
Here is a brief video of one of Helene’s presentations that may get your juices flowing.
This is part of my Answer me this serieswhere I just wonderand invite you to do so with me.