How can anyone not love this? Or worse, fear it?
I thought to myself as we stood in a circle chatting. Our newly made French friend was beside me. He was born in France, but grew up in various parts of America.
His French pride and composure still very evident.
His wife, who was born in Indonesia but grew up in New York State, was equally open and friendly.
They just finished telling us a hilarious account of a random interaction they had with locals in Mexico City – of course endless shots of mezcal were involved.
Two young men came over to our group to chat and celebrate. They were both from Kenya but were buzzing with the French win over Croatia in the final.
We dove into the topic of football and what it takes to be a winner, not just in sport, but in life. We all agreed that College really is not the deciding factor.
Kenneth came over, a black American who not long returned from Sweden and missed it. He was at the crossroads of what to do next in his life. We all agreed New Zealand or Melbourne would be a great choice for him.
I could see that travel bug he had in him and he’d be exploring for many years to come.
This multicultural blending of celebration and conversation was just a natural part of the week we spent at the London Bridge Pub in Raleigh, with new friends and old, watching the World Cup Football semi-finals and Final.
One of the owners of the pub, Englishman Darren, we knew from our years living in Raleigh pre-kids, when he’d serve us way too many drinks and shots at our local Irish pub.
He and his American business partner, Mike, have created this amazing gathering spot for people who love sport and conversations with strangers over a few pints.
There was no better place to watch the soccer, I mean football, than The London Bridge Pub. It was wall to wall of people chanting, singing, jumping up and down and spraying beer when their team scored a goal.
We were right in amongst the sweaty armpits and cheers.
It was like being back living in London. This atmosphere was a weekly event for us as our group of Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans, Irish, Welsh, English and more would turn up to packed pubs to watch us play each other in rugby, cricket and football.
The rivalry was fierce, but the camaraderie was even better.
We laughed, we cheered, we danced, we sang and we all gathered to come together as one – people who loved and hoped for the same things, but were just represented by different colored jerseys.
It didn’t matter where you came from or why. Your story was one to celebrate and share to learn from and appreciate.
That’s what it was like over the course of my last week here in Raleigh – back living in that global world.
We met people from Trinidad, France, Kenya, Canada, America, England, Ireland, Israel, and Cuba – all united for a love of sports, football and fun times.
How could you fear this?
I see these differences as something to celebrate and trade stories over. Stories that will amaze, delight, make you giggle and hopefully give you an insight into yourself and the beauty of a global world.
It’s when I experience moments like this surrounded by people of different color, race, religion, and background, swapping stories that involve hopes, dreams and passions, I feel most alive.
It’s like my spirit has found its place and it soars, and it’s only response is,
How good is life? How cool is it that I get to spend time with all these fascinating people? There is so much to learn and celebrate.
I’m so grateful the world has global events like the World Cup Soccer to remind us we’re in this together, and although we may have winners and losers on the field, when the final whistle blows, what we really have is moments of courage, strength, resilience, joy, successes and friendships.
When we look at the world like this, we don’t need walls to separate us.
We can play together on a field wearing our different jerseys and then swap them in all their sweaty glory at the end of it to show the honor we feel for the other in showing up and playing with me.
I don’t know about you but I had a great final week of the World Cup and I’m having withdrawal symptoms already. My soul just wants more of it. When’s the next big global sporting event or celebration?
P.S. As I’m off Instagram for the month, I don’t even take my phone out with me anymore. I’m just in the moment for the moment and it’s pure bliss. So we didn’t share our World Cup fun this past week on social. I felt like I was living a secret life and loved it!