The French say: « savoir vivre”: knowing how to live.
And by that they mean: courteously, amiably.
A person with “savoir vivre” turns from a fiver into a tenner. He or she has got education, class, style, better still, savoir vivre!
This can apply to any person one knows, from Paris to Casablanca.
The Spanish equivalent is more local: and as local as can be:
That is not simply and dryly « living together ». It is not about following the rules and regulations in the block.
It is the Art of doing so.
It is an active attitude of making life pleasant for those around you.
Convivir is leaving fruits at the door of your neighbour.
Convivir is giving flowers to your landlady, as a token that your relationship was not just money-based, but that you understand and appreciate the care and worries she had during the rental period.
Convivir is showing appreciation to those, that the dumb would treat rudely: the waiter, the garbage collector. It is leaving a bottle of wine for the cleaning lady, or leaving a fresh lemon for her Friday G&T. Because you remember that.
Convivir is addressing the other in his or her native language, showing that apart from a brain-based conversation, you also have an eye for the heart.
Convivir is knowing how people like their coffee, respecting when they take a siesta, and respecting when they are in desperate need of a party too.
Convivir is watering the plants of your neighbour who is in hospital, without a word or plan or agreement.
Convivir = watering every neglected plant, those of the heart, mind, culture.
What with « THE Convivencia », that era in which Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in the tiny towns of Andalusia, the Andalusians had a head start in this art. That these towns remained tiny and remote for a very long time, up to really recently, has only made the wine age even more gracefully.
It is not Aristotelian: slamming on the table that this and that are your rights! Laws! Regulations!
It is Platonic: spotting all the buttons of harmony, friendship and respect.
Of those physically around you, who are all, each in their respective way, contributing to the success and harmony and safety of the community. And that’s why you leave small, colourful touches in the tapestry of their lives, just as they do in yours. It’s what villagers celebrate at a Romeria, and it’s what makes the feria so much more festive than any fair anywhere else in the world.
The command never was “Love your neighbour… when he acts exactly like you or follows your idiosyncracies”. It was “love your neighbour“, punto. If you love first, reciprocity follows.
If you like this post, you might like “Are you Aristotelian or Platonic“?