(The Past) Not Your Cup Of Tea

In front of the Nelson Mandela statue across the street from Westminster Abbey
In front of the Nelson Mandela statue across the street from Westminster Abbey

Being in London this weekend gave me a new appreciation for history and culture. Throughout my time in England, I was reintroduced to grim and enthralling British history. I was reminded of the world’s divide on issues of territory, power, religion, and more. But, with the help of a charismatic tour guide as well as unforeseeable and entirely enjoyable moments, I also learned that despite one’s nature to promote divide, there are shared connections that have the power to withdraw that segregation and create unity.

Early Sunday morning before our tour, Marco and I enjoyed the unprecedented street performance of a witty man in a kilt, climbing a ladder that he stands on his own. As he exhibited his talent and continued up one step to the next, he harbored us in Covent Garden, a marketplace or square, using his satire and absolute random banter. His interesting hustle probably earned him almost 50 pounds from the collective crowd. But his entertainment, was not forced and it was enjoyable. Sometimes we find ourselves managing forced interaction in our everyday routine. And furthermore, some of that company is unavoidable. This is why I find it significant to allow moments similar to my time in Covent Garden to occur. My hope is that all of us as strangers who shared a space in that particular time understand amusement, joy, and laughter to be essential to our health and living. I believe that cheerfulness ought to be a priority for all.

Our tour began and although we had experienced a sunny day in London, which is often rare, we had to manage the cold wind chill. But our lively tour guide convinced us to remain faithful and soon we became committed to the lessons that were being taught. Throughout our stroll in Trafalgar Square and by Buckingham Palace, we were told secrets of the Reformation and unconventional relationship between Catholics and Protestants in the 16th century. We listened closely to the royal scandals of Henry VIII and his many wives. We talked about the dynamic Winston Churchill and his hesitance to accept women in Parliament. We were told the true stories of notable figures from King James to Florence Nightingale all the way to even now, the second longest reigning heir, Queen Elizabeth II. The past of England, like many countries, and people is gory and painful; it’s not exactly the tea and crackers that we are made to believe. Nevertheless, it is our love of stories and sometimes history that bring us together. Despite our painful past, it is our stories that allow us to reach out and touch others. It is our ability to retell such painful memories and more importantly be proof of having overcome them, which allow people to gravitate toward us.

Among the history lessons were amusing moments that emphasized this idea of being able to share connections universally. In continuing our experiences in England, Marco and I found success in the London nightlife. We spent our first night in British Soho, jamming to Bruno Mars, and dancing with strangers. Although there are many things in the world that cause divide, when appreciated some of these things that we consider to be distinct, can actually bring people together. Music has certainly defined this theme of centralizing others. Last night we brought our energy to a pub in Piccadilly Circus. And even though, I find my life has an extravert to be valuable, it was not entirely necessary at the time. Around us was a mix of curiously attractive people and the appropriate playlist for a goodtime, most of the songs by Michael Jackson. I was being charmed by a hilarious group of British guys while Marco joined a couple German and Romanian women for a dance. The DJ played several of Michael’s hits from “The Way You Make Me Feel” to “Rock With You” and we all basked in the moment of remembering the King of Pop. All of us, from different parts of the world, never having met each other, all coming together just to enjoy ourselves.

Nevertheless, in this certainly complicated world, where difference can isolate, there are many reasons for unity, even in such disparity. Whether it is our desire for happiness, to just have a good time, and enjoy music or the ability to share our deepest stories, we must never let those moments pass us by. And maybe for you, it’s not exactly your cup of tea to get out of your comfort zone, but those moments birth cosmic memories, like last night. Maybe your moment won’t be dancing with people from all over the world to Michael, perhaps it will be something else, but I guarantee you, even with such diversity around you, the unity that you’ll find will be special and something to remember!

“Big Ben” …cool fact: the tower was renamed last year to Queen Elizabeth II Tower, in honor of the 2nd longest reigning heir
Trafalgar Square.
Trafalgar Square.
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
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