Not to put to fine a point on it, but my Spanish sucks. I’ve listened to tapes. I’ve taken a community college class. I use my dictionary. But in the heat of the moment, I forget the word for breakfast and if aqua is masculine or feminine. I regularly use the wrong verb ending, which results in odd questions like “Do I have salads?” I spend five minutes constructing a question, but somehow forget that if I ask a question in Spanish, they will respond in Spanish! At which point I get the deer-in-the-headlights look, panic, and hope like hell Frank understood what they said.
The one word that I use consistently and with great success is gracias – thank you. When I’m traveling in a Spanish-speaking country, I use it a hundred times a day. Most everybody is patient and helpful as I garble their language while asking for more towels or hot water for my tea or when the bus leaves. For that, I am sincerely grateful. So I say gracias. All. The. Time.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve traveled in Mexico, to the Sacred Valley of Peru and to Guatemala. In all of those countries, whenever I said “Gracias,” people always said, “De nada” in return. The most common expression of “you’re welcome” in Spanish, de nada literally means “it’s nothing.” In Costa Rica, however, it was different. For the past month, every single time I said gracias, the response was always, con gusto. Con mucho gusto.
With pleasure. With much pleasure.
I loved it every time I heard it. Instead of a nearly dismissive response – it’s nothing — it felt completely different to receive the warmth and connection of “with much pleasure.”
What if this was the way we moved through our days? Through everything we do? In every interaction? What if we choose to do it all with pleasure, with great pleasure?
Returning home after a long time away, my life feels a little like an old pair of jeans found in the bottom of my drawer. Putting them on feels paradoxically both familiar and new. I’m taking the opportunity in the daily routine of my life, to practice doing things with great pleasure. Folding laundry. Driving the car. Chopping peppers. Hugging friends.
How would your day be different if you allow even the most mundane tasks that you’ve done a thousand times to be done with pleasure, with much pleasure?
Instead of my habitual “You’re welcome,” my intention is to say “with pleasure” in response to any thank yous that come my way. Unless I panic and forget the words. Which could happen. Even in English.