As of 24 hours ago, I had no plans in Costa Rica for today.
Yet, here I rest, wrapped in the mist Monteverde’s cloud forest, reflecting on one of the busiest and most clarifying days of my life.
I awoke in one of the most peaceful locations on earth, with a gentle breeze blowing through a parted window and an ambiance of foreign birds and insects just a few feet beyond the doorstep. The sun peaked gently through a sheer white curtain as the encompassing mountains began to come to life. Any Costa Rican vacationer would awaken entirely at peace, right?
They’d awaken relaxed and unaware, as their mind drifted in and out of consciousness, and their eyelids gently began to flutter open and their muscles demanded a refreshing stretch after a deep sleep.
Yet, I awoke restless at 6 a.m., with a clouded 21-year-old’s mind racing with anxiety.
While the peaceful surroundings of Costa Rica may be a bit foreign to me, I must admit my mental unease is not.
With concerns of the future, where I’ll be in a month, in six months, in a year or even 10 years, I oftentimes find myself lost in thought and apprehension.
Until today, I wouldn’t have believed anything could entirely remedy this disconcertion.
Yet, any Costa Rican native or visitor will tell you this country can overcome nearly any emotional, mental or physical strain. Though I may not have agreed 24 hours ago, I’m here today tell you the same.
Spontaneously invited along for a “therapeutic forest walk,” I had my reservations. I anticipated a circle of bare-footed, dread-locked, possibly loin-clothed locals circling a pile of leaves and lit candles, chanting solemnly while joining hands. Part of me wanted a glimpse into this naturalistic world I fantasized for myself.
Thus, Costa Rica drug me out of bed, handed me a coat, and welcomed me into its undeniably immaculate world. All too suddenly, all of my reservations and assumptions were shattered.
It’s difficult, really, to put the entire experience in to words. But as a journalist, I’m here to try my best.
There was no hand-holding, though we did briefly walk barefoot. There were conversations in a circle, but there was no chanting. At the end of the day, I embraced the surrounding environment of Costa Rica, it embraced me, and my mind naturally emptied. I’m not entirely sure how the forest was able to do so, but I walked away at ease.
That’s just how the country is, I’ve found. You’re forced to fully embrace your immediate surroundings, your immediate senses and your immediate relationships, and everything behind or everything ahead seems to melt away without you really noticing it.
Pura vida—it’s a pure life. It’s not what’s coming, it’s not what you could have done or have yet to do, it’s what you’re doing. It’s the conversations you’re having, the relationships you’re establishing and the earth you’re experiencing. Nothing more.
There’s freedom in the vulnerability, I’ve found.