Imagine one projection T.V., several long tables, a plethora of cervezas (i.e. beer) and people screaming and cheering in 4 different languages. I know… this sounds a lot like every bar in the States during Football season… except for the speaking in 4 different languages part. BUT remember… I’m not in the States, I’m in Costa Rica. This means its FUTBOL season!!!
No… not Football Americana… but Futbol. You know the sport… very hip looking guys in shorts and cleats running around on a field, performing acrobatic stunts as they try to kick a ball into a goal while other guys use any body part they can to try and stop the ball from reaching the goal. I know… this sounds a lot like American Football… except for the hipster part, and maybe the shorts… but I’m talking about Soccer and the 2010 World Cup qualifying rounds.
In Costa Rica, Futbol is HUGE! In our little town of Nosara, the soccer field comes to life on the weekends as everyone gets together to cheer on their favorite local team.
Tonight, my next door neighbor invited me to go to the Rancho Tico (a local restaurant/bar) and watch Costa Rica play the U.S.A. I knew I was in for a night when Olivier walked out of his home wearing his best Costa Rican soccer jersey. There was NO DOUBT who he wanted to win. As for me… well, since the U.S.A. had already clinched a berth in the World Cup tournament for the sixth consecutive time from the North and Central America and Caribbean region AND Costa Rica needed to WIN in order to advance to the World Cup tournament, I suddenly remembered something my Father told me… “when in Rome.” You know the rest.
So… along with Olivier and my newfound Costa Rican friends, I cheered on the Ticos with all my heart and soul, but alas, my cheering made no impact. Cost Rica ended up in a draw with the U.S.A. that denied them a berth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
I felt empathy for my friends, but this loss did not impact me like it did them. There was something, however, that DID impact me tremendously. Remember the 4 different languages I mentioned in the beginning of this post? Throughout the night, at my small table, I heard people speaking English, Spanish, French and German. AND sometimes, mixtures of these languages.
Being a gringo here, I was having a hard time keeping up. Hell… if they were only speaking Spanish, it would have been a challenge for me as I’m just learning the language. But something amazing happened for me right then… my deep desire to understand caused me to really sit there and listen… to be present… in that moment, and really listen to what everyone was saying. Watching the expressions on their faces… hearing the emotion in their words as they waved their hands around to further make their point… and watching other people’s reactions to what was being said. You know what? At that moment, I understood… and what an amazing feeling it was, to “understand.”
This experience made me realize how easy it CAN BE to “sincerely listen” when someone is speaking with you. For me, I hope this feeling never goes away because it’s better than raspberry covered cheesecake… which, for me… is heaven.
“It is better to listen in order to understand than to listen in order to reply” -Anonymous