Before getting into the heart of this blog I need to provide some background regarding the places to be mentioned. So here goes...
I currently work for the Environmental Protection Agency here in Washington DC. The EPA, however, is not just one building, as I've quickly learned. In fact it is composed of several, some found in the downtown area of DC (which is where I'm at), others in Virginia and elsewhere. This fact leads me to explanation of my particular work area. I don't work in the "main" EPA building (which can be even further divided in East, West, and Rios- confusing, I know). Instead I work right next door in the beautiful and majestic Ronald Reagan International World Trade Center. The Capitol can be viewed on the right (a mear 20 blocks down- which isn't really that far) and the White House on the left (about two blocks down and surrounded by trees). This is a wonderful building that is home to several agencies: not just EPA. There's the USAID (United States Agency for International Development), EPA, Washington Visitor's Center, and a very tasty food court filled with delicible coffees (I've found a place that's better than Starbucks), savory asian, tasty italian, healthy subs, and cool shakes. It's a nice building to work in (although extremely cold). So why explain this to you all... well to help you understand my topic.
Between the two buildings (Rios/EPA and Reagan) is a courtyard called the Woodrow Wilson Plaza and everyday from 12pm-1:30pm there's music and performers. Tables, chairs, and shade umbrellas are set up for people to sit, relax, eat, and enjoy. I've often found myself wondering out there during lunch time for some fresh air (my work area has no windows) and sunshine (I often need to warm up). Most of the time the music is nice but nothing extraordinary. I've heard jazz, pop, flamingo (that was cool), piano and other types. But today was best... for it was Latin, and on top of that: salsa music. It was upbeat, vibrate, energetic, and great. I sat there with my foot tapping and head bobbing and thought this was wonderful. People were dancing latin ballroom dances like the mumbo, samba and others. Older folks, little kids, guys in suits, and ladies in dresses were all enjoying the moment. Then I came to a startling realization... I was witnessing true expression.
Now, what do I mean by that. Well the singers, dancers, everyone was just letting go. They were letting themselves breathe, feel, and open up to the world around them. They didn't care who was watching or what else was happening. Meetings, chaos, problems were all melting away as people laughed, danced, and smiled. Life was fully and truly being lived. A latin vibe of self expression... of freedom... of pure enjoyment had swept this political area. And then I began to think why did this surprise me? I mean after all, I do work in the international building and work next door to an international agency, so why did foreign way of life truly affect us all so much? I think it's because we've forgotten how to breathe as Americans. We've forgotten how to look inside ourselves and enjoy the moment. We're too concentrated on work, kids, and various other demands to take the time for a little jig, a little smile, a time of fun. How much we're missing and how sad for us.
Well I left that lunch time feeling much warmer and wondering if I, too, would remember to breathe and remember that salsa is so much more.