In 1966 Simon and Garfunkel released a song called “The 59th Bridge Song.” It also had the alternate title of “Feeling Groovy.” I remember the lyrics of the song because I listened to it on the radio when I was kid. The song fits with the Spanish culture, especially their approach to leisure. If I’m not careful, sometimes when I go to my Spanish friends’ more relaxed events on the weekends or holidays, I can really overwhelm them with my American intentionality and drivenness in conversation. We Americans can be so pointed or specific in how we approach our time with friends, it can really overwhelm the Spanish people.
One thing that’s helped me not rock the boat too much is to hum to myself a few of the lines of this song. When I am acting too American in Spain, I try to remember verses like these:
Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
I got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy
It’s not that this is my new philosophy on life, or that I’ll ever really stop being American, but in order to connect with the Spanish way, I need to remind myself to “slow down,” because by nature, I move way “too fast.”
I’ll give one recent example of how I messed up and wasn’t feeling the Spanish “grooviness.” At the end of June, our church had a all-day gathering at a mountain river for a baptism. After baptisms like these, we spend most of the day together with a picnic and a lot lounging around. Sometimes, after the service, people don’t even talk to each other. We all just eat, sit, smile at each other…la la la…feeling groovy. It feels so different for us, but in a really fascinating way, Spaniards truly feel a connection with each other by just being together.
Well this year, just before the baptism, I came from a conference in Britain on the New Testament. I had spent every waking minute of the previous three days interacting with my peers on the New Testament. Conversation was intense, driven, and fast-paced. Without even noticing it, one day later, when I went to the church’s picnic, I came with the same kind of intentionality to talk with my church friends. I went around to people asking them about their summers, pressing in and asking particularly pointed questions about anything and everything. I can’t believe I didn’t realize what I was doing, but one thing I did notice is that everyone started to avoid me, setting up their picnic blanket, far, far, away from the Reesers. By the time we were in the car riding home, Julie and I had to remind ourselves yet AGAIN that we need to slow down, because sometimes we just move too fast.