What we can learn from the Portuguese in one word: Obrigado
The driver: "Obrigado." --> Us: "Obrigado."
The server: "Obrigado." --> Us: "Obrigado."
The nurse: "Obrigado." --> Us: "Obrigado."
The stranger: "Obrigado." --> Us: "Obrigado."
The artist: "Obrigado." --> Us: "Obrigado."
The cashier: "Obrigado." --> Us: "Obrigado."
The lifeguard: "Obrigado." --> Us: "Obrigado."
We visited Portugal for one month in the Fall of 2017 and it was good. We visited four places primarily in the beautiful Portugal: the island of the Açores (Sao Miguel specifically), the city of Porto, the city of Lisboa, and the Algarve (specifically the town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio). Each place with its own character, its own charm, its own claims to fame, its own way of doing life, its own culture, its own pace, and its own tasty treats. During our four primary visits, we spent no fewer than seven days in each location and we really attempted to live in the present while soaking in all the area had to offer. We only ate local foods, we tasted the local wines, we saw the sights and we tried looking for the "non-touristy" places to experience. We interacted with locals, we watched futbol, we were passengers on local public transport, we walked on foot, we rode ferries and trains and light rails, we sunk our teeth into sweet Portuguese pastries, we shopped at markets, and we tried our best to speak the local language.
In terms of the spoken language, after the third week of living in Portugal, we observed there was one word which was the most widely used word we heard spoken on a daily basis. It was, in fact, the most frequently used word we uttered once we got the hang of basic Portuguese. Our children now utter this word daily. The word is "obrigado." Obrigado means "thank you." It is our belief that hearing this word time and again is not merely happenstance or coincidence. We believe it sums up the "way of life" for the Portuguese people. There is a sense of calm and peace in Portugal. Of course, it is not perfect and there are stressors and one can feel them especially in fast paced places such as Lisbon, but there is also a sense of gratitude amidst the hustle and bustle. You hear gratitude in the streets. You feel thankful while living amongst the Portuguese.
There is a lot we can learn from the lexicon of a specific community. It reveals the culture. Words mean something. The abundance of specific words repeated over and over again speaks to the importance of those same specific words. For our experience in Portugal, it was the word "obrigado" that has been repeated time and again, day after day, moment after moment, interaction after interaction. Even when we did not hear the word, we would see it. We would see this word printed on signs adorning shops, plastered on walls, scribed with graffiti paint, painted on murals, or even scribbled on art work. Our experiences ooze of this word and therefore our experience in Portugal left us with this lasting impression: gratitude. We are grateful for Portugal and what it means to our family. We are grateful for family. We are grateful for our experiences. Thank you Portugal. Thank you. Obrigado.
Where have you seen and experienced immense gratitude in your life? Is there a time or place where you have been overcome with gratitude? Where? When?
***the photo attached to this post is of a pin we purchased from an artist at a local market in the area of Alfama in Lisbon.