A Single Word
The one that Armando Manzanero does not mention in his songs, but is ever present.
What could that word be?
“One morning in the early 1970’s, I was walking along the main street of my hometown, in Latin America, when I saw a group of magnificently dressed gipsy women adorned with multicoloured scarves and pleated silk and chiffon skirts. They also wore gold rings, chains, pendants and even their teeth were gold enhancing their beauty.
One of the exotic women with Kohl rimmed chestnut eyes, dressed like a Princess from the Arabian Nights, approached me and said:
– Buen mozo, te adivinaré el futuro. Dame una moneda y una palabra. (Handsome, I will tell you your future. Give me a coin and a word.)
I looked at her with surprise; while she continued saying:
– Buen mozo, si tuvieras que elegir una palabra entre todas las palabras, ¿cuál sería esta palabra? (Handsome, If you had to choose one word amongst them all. Which one would it be?)
Without thinking I said:
– Pasión es la palabra. (Passion is the word.)
– Ahora dame la moneda chico. (Boy, now give me the coins.)
Once she took the coin, she began to sway hypnotically, closed her eyes, and seemed to step into a trance. She then said:
– Tendrás muchos amores, pero solo en el último encontrarás pasión. Ahora vete. (You will have many lovers, but only with the last one you will find passion. Now, you must go.)
She disappeared rapidly with the others, and in the end I was one coin lighter but I was left with a word.”
Since then many years have passed by and I have learned that every dream needs a dreamer and one ingredient of any dream is that drive that keep us going, this is called pasión.
The word pasión in Spanish and the word passion in English share a common origin. There are a several thousands words in both English and Spanish that share a common root, similar spelling and sometimes even meanings, such as: estrella/astro and star; noche and night, día and day, cereal and cereal. I will refer to this more in detail in a future blog.
The meaning of words changes over time, they evolve. Pasión is a word that comes from far away in history and its meaning has evolved. Pasión and passion not only share similar spelling, but also the same meaning. Two of the most common meanings currently in use are: a profound and sometimes only just manageable emotion and lastly an intense motivation or enthusiasm for something.
Pasión is a common theme of much Spanish art, literature and music. In particular, the lyrics Contigo Aprendí, “With you I Learned”, is a fine example of a song from the golden époque of Bolero expressing pasión.
The version below is sung by Eugenia León and Armando Manzanero. Eugenia Leon is a world renowned Mexican singer and Manzanero is a great composer with Mayan roots. Again, challenging as it may be to pick up one song amongst so many, I have chosen this one because of its refined imagery and simplicity. It portrays the feeling of love at first sight, of rebirth and the pasión that true loves brings to us. Following are three lines from this song:
Contigo aprendí / A ver la luz del otro lado de la luna
(With you I learned / to see the light on the other side of the moon)
Que puedo irme mañana mismo de este mundo / Las cosas buenas ya contigo las viví
(that I could leave this world tomorrow / Because I have already lived the best of life with you)
Y contigo aprendí / Que yo nací el día en que te conocí
(And I learned / That I was born the day I met you)
Here is a link to the complete song:
La pasión is allied to motivation and enthusiasm, that readiness to embrace what it takes, to achieve one’s goals, overcoming any obstacle and pasión is the best ingredient to add to the recipe of “studying a second language”.