Pura Vida: A Journey Through Costa Rica and Into Myself

Travel. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the many trips on which I’ve been and those I hope to take. Many factors have contributed to my thoughts. Facebook reminds me daily of where I was on this day in history. This time last year, I was watching the sun set in Oia. I’m still trying to catch my breath.

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I’m also currently in the midst of a summer full of domestic and international travel. From California to India, and many places in between, I’m racking up the frequent flyer miles in 2016. My current passport expires late next year and I’m determined to hit Australia and South America before I begin a brand new ten year journey around the world. Ten years, six continents. I’m not sure that’s the title of a travel writing bestseller, but I do like the way it sounds.

Some folks find fulfillment in quilting, playing sports, expensive possessions, and many other things. Me, I need to slide my feet into my Birks, throw on my backpack (or in the case of a three months long trip, drag my gargantuan suitcase), and hit the open road. Travel fuels me. Anticipating it is one of the things that gives me the energy to push through difficult times. Today might be rough, but soon I’ll be hiking through a rainforest, standing in awe of an artistic masterpiece, or exploring a historical site. Or perhaps I’ll be feeding my soul while meditating in my ancestral home.

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The act of traveling is indeed invigorating! The older I get, however, the more I realize that it is the inner journey, that both leads me to travel and is a direct result of my travels, that empowers me most. I don’t travel solely to be a tourist who sees and does really neat things, though that’s a part of it. But I travel more so because I have chosen to be a citizen of the world. I travel to discover the breadth and depth of nature and humanity. Consequently, on these journeys I learn a whole lot about Aeriale such as:

  1. I am both fortunate and unfortunate because, as an American, I have infinitely more than I need. This should influence my everyday life more than it does.
  2. My identity – every nuance of it – matters. I should spend more time thinking about what every aspect of my identity means to me and how they collectively and individually shape how I exist in the world. I do know that I have more power over my own life than most people throughout the world who look like me. This should compel me to take more action to empower them and on their behalf.
  3. Speaking of identity, I am SUCH A TEACHER. No matter how hard I try, I cannot turn it off. I trip over a branch in a rainforest and I instantly take a photograph because I see a math lesson in the patterns of its leaves. And why shouldn’t being a teacher influence my travels and vice versa?
  4. I am kind. . .and strong. Contrary to popular belief, these characteristics are not mutually exclusive. I need to continue to work on achieving just the right balance in my daily life.
  5. I am a much better version of myself when I spend an adequate amount of time in communion with the natural world. I love nature. I love how it compels me to engage all of my senses to truly experience it. I love how nature calls me to stillness, which forces me to think deeply.
  6. I hope that I will one day have someone special with whom I can share some of my travels. I am not lonely. I love to travel alone for many reasons. However, since being a world traveler and global citizen is one of my defining characteristics, I need to learn to share this part of myself with that one guy. . . Does anyone know who/where he is?

This is not an exhaustive list (I don’t need to tell y’all everything), but it covers a lot of what I’ve been pondering while I’ve been in Costa Rica. #costarica2016 has been an incredible journey. I am thankful for experiences like having to run away from a monkey who was throwing things at me from the top of a tree. I am also thankful for the brilliant conversation about cross-cultural relationships I had with a Costa Rican last night. Most of all, though, I am thankful for how every part of being here caused me to get a little closer to myself and discover the capacities of my heart, mind and. . .sometimes. . .my asthmatic lungs!

Pura vida, indeed.

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