December 2, 2009

spanish & me & life purpose

My cousin Claire and I -

What is my place in this world?
I keep asking myself. I do not know. But I have learned to find purpose in every day, and in every encounter with others.

Yesterday I was driving to a friend's house and there was a serious auto accident in a major intersection a few yards in front of me. I called 911.
The scene was chaos. At least 50 cars were watching as glass and plastic spewed, liquids streamed, and smoke billowed. Several others tried to help, but did not speak Spanish. It was a frenzy.

Several people spoke to the driver of the car whose car seriously damaged. She was still sitting in the driver's seat, smoke pluming out the rear door, and liquids spilling out all over the street. She was clearly in shock, and sort of gesticulating that she was ok.
And then I realized she may speak Spanish. Estas bien? Te duele algo? Puedes parar? I placed my hand on her shoulder and did my meager best to reassure her.
She did respond to this. Mi garganta, she said. Her neck was deeply burned and bruised by her seat belt. Thank God that her airbag deployed or she would have been in much more substantial trouble.
The 911 operator told me that she needed to stay seated in the car to minimize potential personal injury, that help was on the way. And as I told this to the young lady, my hand rubbing her back, a fire engine blared through an intersection just a block away. I smiled at her and quietly stepped away as the rescue men took my place.

I walked away from the situation feeling nothing particularly special. I just asked a lady if she was ok. Yet I must look back and consider that what happened was indeed substantial; I cannot imagine being paralyzed in fear after a major accident and not being able to communicate with anyone. Dreadful.

What is my life purpose? I have no concrete answer. But I do choose to be me, Rose, in every moment, no matter how chaotic or simplistic, elegant or raw that moment is.

I am grateful for the opportunity to affect her life, even for just five minutes. I feel validated. And all I did was speak Spanish.


  1. Rosita. This was a powerful story. Purpose is what we find worthy of doing, worthy of being. Keep doing that :-)

  2. Thanks, M -

    I have the most delightful picture of you back in... 2004? in a swimming pool launching Miss Claire up into the air :)

  3. Today, I was asking God about why I can't learn to speak english fluently even though I been living in the USA for the last 6 years. After I read this blog, God inspire me to keep trying... Some purpose have God in my life and I know that has something to do with this process. God bles you Rosa!!!

  4. WOW -
    Thank you so much for writing. That's awesome.
    My Spanish is awful. I know just enough Spanish to say so.
    And I get mad at myself: Grammar is my worst point, and I always forget the differences between por/para, ser/estar. Why don't I study? I'm only hurting myself!
    I understand where you're coming from. Perhaps I'll use you to inspire me. (I'm discouraged right now.)

    Good thing: I have a number of friends who often speak spanish, and they correct me. I'm sure you have English speaking friends. I encourage you to ask them to correct you all the time. It might be frustrating to realize just how many mistakes you make... But you will also realize how quickly you are improving.
    Advice: Make flash cards!

    I'd love to know who you are -
    Send me an email at if you wish to reveal yourself!