My First Orgy (of Joy)

My First Orgy (of Joy)
February 24, 2014 Lainie Liberti

It is a well known fact:

Happy people ALWAYS have contagious effects on others.

Last Sunday I found myself a helpless victim to an orgy of happiness and joy.

 

This particular Sunday was a typical Peruvian summer day in the capital. Locals gathered in parks throughout the city to enjoy the cool ocean breeze, the company of one other and experience a general sense of community. Miro and I had the same intention as we wandered into Parque Kennedy in the Miraflores district of Peru’s capital. In his backpack, Miro carried in his heavy chess set, pieces hand-carved from Andean stone, my gift to him last year for Hanukkah.

Our purpose for being in Lima was to renew our passports and now we found ourselves waiting for the new ones to arrive. We lived in Lima before we moved tomi Cusco, and as always, love the opportunity to catch up with the friends we’ve made along the way. This Sunday, we connected with our friend Cale.

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The first time we met American backpack-clad Cale, he arrived at our house in Antigua, Guatemala. He was couchsurfing with us, having just hitchhiked from Mexico. He was one of our favorite guests in Antigua as we sat for hours sharing travel stories and reminisced about our travel experiences to date. Our paths crossed twice again, as often times, travelers find themselves on the same route. We were so exited to connect with Cale again, and happy his path led him back to Lima the same time ours did.

Parque Kennedy was alive with people.

Miro, Cale and I made our way to the sunken amphitheater offering ample seating for people to gather. We spread out the thin red sarong over the concrete to keep us cool.  Miro pulled out the heavy chess set. The hand carved pieces were ready for battle, small Inca Warriors challenging the Spanish Conquistadors. Miro always chooses the Spanish pieces, not because of a political stance, quite the contrary. He chooses the black pieces strategically because he does not like to make the first move. With that, Cale sat down with the Incas poised in challenge in hopes of changing Peru’s 500 year old past.

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The summer sun was warm on my cheeks, and I loved the opportunity to just sit and watch the constant flow of relaxed people strolling through Parque Kennedy. I noticed school age girls wearing denim shorts and tank tops while others choose flirty sundresses. There were dozens of mothers holding their toddler’s hands, as their little capped heads bopped up and down with each skip. Many more sat in closed groups scattered through out the grassy patches and flower beds. Cats ran through park and grass was cool and inviting.

Miro and Cale were engaged in a series of heated chess matches. I felt honored that Miro finally had a real challenger which pushed his limits. Miro’s chess skills far surpassed my own and now I fear, I am no longer a worthy opponent for my son.

I happily sat, feeling the warmth of the sun on my cheeks and contentment with people watching.

Within the amphitheater itself, many seniors gathered, all with spirited aliveness. The opposite side of amphitheater, a group was growing. Then, a few older gentlemen with guitars sat down and others with percussion instruments. I realized this must be a weekly social gathering, summer, sun, and music.

I watched. I observed.

I sensed the rising heat running through the blood of everyone there, rising with passion and zest for life. I was beautiful to witness. As the crowd grew, the energy rose and people’s smiles widened and hips started to sway. And more and more gathered, and within a 10 minute time span the entire amphitheater was alive with people. I watched each new comer grace the cheeks of those already there with kisses and smiles. I love kisses as greetings, a tradition in Peru I absolutely adore.

The women all of a “certain age” looked tanned and beautiful, expressing a sense comfort with their round and aging bodies, in varies shapes and dimensions. Each proudly highlighted their curves with the form fitting summer tops and accenting their ample bottoms with clinging skirts. Many of the over 50 crowd wore heels and moved with such grace. I was experiencing such joy watching them, feeling blessed to witness a cultural gathering not filled with the California pretense I was accustomed to.

An hour before we settled into the amphitheater, Miro and I witnessed a double decker bus circle Parque Kennedy. The second floor of the bus was open and an enthusiastic crowd of no less than 30 high energy people were cheering and holding up signs. The signs garnered beautiful self love messages like “be happy” and “love yourself”. The joy pouring out of that bus was contagious as people were encouraged to feel happy.

Who needs encouragement?” I thought. Being happy is my preference.

Miro said, “Mom you are the only person I know who could do that, be a part of that bus.

Indeed I could, and I smiled ear to ear and waved ferociously back at the happy-bus-crew.

Sometime during Miro and Cale’s second game of chess, we noticed the bus reappear. The cheering and jeering from the bus became progressively louder as the bus came to at halt just outside the amphitheater. The passengers poured out of the bus and headed towards the center of the amphitheater. The now full amphitheater had reached its seating capacity and many of the crowd overflowed into the center.

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The happy-bus-crew piled into the center literally bouncing up and down with glee, proudly chanting the slogans on their hand-written signs. They embodied joy, smiling and laughing, dancing, and chanting over and over “soy feliz, soy feliz!” (I am happy, I am happy) over and over! Their smiles were contagious, their frenetic energy felt so completely joyful. Some of the happy-bus-crew ran into the amphitheater seating and hugged random people and encouraged them to repeat “soy feliz!”.

I was overcome with so much joy, watching and receiving this selfless exchange of happy energy.

As if it was precisely orchestrated, an Argentinian street band appeared out of nowhere, made it’s way into the center of amphitheater and started to play. Suddenly the amphitheater became alive with dancers, men and woman of all ages and the wonderful happy-bus-crew too.

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I watched as the seniors who had been sitting around get up and join the group of dancers. At some point the entire center was filled with nothing but happy dancing seniors expressing their joy for living in that moment. Everyone seemed to be feeling pleasure and joy. The dancers moved their  bodies as the bombastic music encouraged freedom.

This was one of the most incredible scenes I’ve witnessed in a very long time. I felt the joy. I felt the joy of others spark the joy in me. I felt the tears of joy in my eyes.

I witnessed presence without any pretense. No one was preoccupied with how they might look to anyone else. I witnessed freedom in joy. I saw community.

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I saw life, how it should be experienced, an orgy of joy.

 

The happy-bus-crew had done their job well.
I want to be a member of the happy-bus-crew from here on out.

2 Comments

  1. Leigh 8 years ago

    And then you just passed the happy along to me. 🙂 Who couldn’t help but smile while reading this post.

  2. Heber 7 years ago

    I’m from Peru and I would like to thank you for showing how my country is in such a lovely way .
    thanks a lot .

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