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I woke up at five fifteen yesterday morning, ate some fresh pineapple, and then rode to the bus stop with my cousin in his sleek, super-awesome Range Rover. Seriously, that car is a batmobile.

I rode the bus to the station, and as I walked around searching for my next bus stop, I realised how much I looked like a foreign tourist with my backpack, camo shorts, and flip-flops. Oh, the shame.

After a mild hour-and-a-half ride from San Jose to Esparza, near the coast, I met up with a fantastic friend from Montana who happens to be living in Costa Rica too. He introduced me to the lovely host family he’s staying with, and it only took me two days to learn all their names. Yeah! Record speed!

Breakfast was followed by a day ambling along the coast, complete with the hot sunny beaches, palm trees, sea birds, fresh coconut water, and of course a swim in the Pacific ocean. We even met a Jehovah’s Witness from Germany who tried to convert us.
After the tide tried to steal our phones and wallets from the sand, we headed back to the house and spent the rest of our time on a neighbour’s porch chillin’ late into the balmy night in a true Latino style.

The heat woke me up the next morning — and basically threatened to put me back to sleep for the rest of the day.

Right before leaving, I asked the lady of the house if I could pray for her hand. She had carpel tunnel syndrome and was having to take pain killers. I prayed about four or five times, with the pain lessening each time I prayed. On the last try, her eyes got really wide and she said she felt a lot of heat coming out of my hands. Had to have been the Holy Spirit, ’cause I didn’t feel anything.

Since my aunt happened to be in a nearby town that very afternoon, I got on another bus to find her. She had driven for her three cousins (all of them sisters) because they were coming to help a Catholic priest set up his church for Easter week. I was spontaneously recruited to help as soon as I arrived. Apparently they were all good friends, because, afterward, we all went into the parish and sat in his back patio, joking and laughing and drinking coffee.

The day gradually ended as we drove back home to the mountains. We left just as the sun was spilling fire and gold all over the Pacific horizon. There were six of us in the car: my aunt, the three sisters, one other lady, and me. They talked for the entire two hours, all at the same time. It was no bother to me, though. I was stuffed in the back reading the last couple chapters of my legal fiction novel by the light of the car behind us. The early crescent moon and Venus peaked out conspicuously from the sky just after the sun went down, like little siblings sneaking into their older brother’s bedroom when he’s away.

The purpose of life after all is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and for richer experience. –Eleanor Roosevelt

Roaming Wyoming

We have a very large, poofy ball of fluff that wanders around our house all the time. For the most part, though, I’m pretty sure he’s a cat. His name is Rain, and my mom actually brought him from Montana to Costa Rica on a plane when she flew down here; so he’s quite the validated member of the family now. However, it’s happened a few times that he’s gotten the notion into his head to try to steal my handkerchief in the early mornings before I wake up. He pounces up onto my desk and makes absolute certain to knock everything over, then tries to snatch the handkerchief and take it away so he can chew on it. I caught him in the act the first couple of times, but there was once after getting up that I walked out of the room to find my handkerchief on the floor, clearly the victim of Rain’s feline mischievousness.

That really has nothing to do with what I was going to say, though. Instead, I was going to mention an analogy that came to mind several weeks ago as I was driving across the US: I think that saying Wyoming is unappealing and uninteresting is like saying that elderly folk are unappealing and uninteresting. It’s really just a matter of opinion and preference. That’s to no offense to the elderly, of course; I love older people, and I get along with them exorbitantly well. We could have just as easily used new-born babies as a comparison too. Or even abstract painting. The point is that, in many cases, you just need to know how to find the beauty in something to learn how to appreciate it. I think it has to do with what’s inside you. I’ve found that a person’s interpretation of an objective entity — like a colour or a place — usually displays more about the person’s character and mentality than it does the object itself. The notion is similar to a concept used in clear communication. Nobody can make absolute certain that his or her personality, speech patterns, or mannerisms are completely inoffensive to every range of person in the world. Some things, regardless of how we mean them, are often taken a different way entirely, simply based on a mentality or perspective that a person has who hears them. That’s why it’s crucial that we are all clear in our relationships and conversations about how we received things or how we’re affected on the inside. As I’ve been diligently taught, it’s our own responsibility to let others in on how we’re doing inwardly, not simply presume that they’ll know it automatically. As a friend of mine once said, you don’t have to apologise for who you are unless it hurts somebody else. However, sometimes you can’t know you’ve hurt somebody if they don’t tell you. Coincidentally, it’s all very mutual.

In any case, as I had mentioned, last month I drove by myself through the entire United States — and I do mean the entire United States. I traversed from Montana, through Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, part of Texas, and finally into Louisiana; so I had plenty of time to ruminate about all this, and other things. It was heaps of fun, though. My heart has found its bliss by traveling the world. Therefore, for the record, I think Wyoming is beautiful; and here’s a quote to go with it (since we all know that quotes by famous people make things seem that much more consequential, right?) “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it,” by Confucius. Nevertheless, too much of anything, disagreeable or great, can still become exhausting — whether it’s icecream, sunshine, kissing, or otherwise.

In the end, the word of the day is that there’s nothing wrong with liking something most people don’t like, or disliking something most people love….except for when it comes to country music. Clearly people who like country music are messed up.

La Fiebre del Fútbol

Despite having grown up in Costa Rica, where people learn to play soccer pretty much as soon as they learn to walk, I never developed much of an interest for the sport. It is of course always fun to play with a heap of people, some of whom might be just as bad as I am, in the pouring rain, slipping and sliding and falling through the mud; but it’s a rare and special thing if the ball ever flies in the direction that I intended to kick it. Nevertheless, it is difficult to remain uninterested when the entire country (I do mean the entire country) vibrates and roars with exuberant ecstasy during a game in the World Cup. It’s almost outrageous! I think it must be my Tico half recognising the vitality of the moment. However, I’m just as bad if not worse in my US side with the SuperBowl or whatever it is; baseball is just not my thing.

To be serious though, I think the most heartening thing I’ve noticed about sports and sports events like these is the way they bring people together, to unite in league with one another, even if it is merely for two hours….two hours of high level stress and anxiety, combined with sudden rushes of adrenaline accompanied by unnecessarily loud screams and cheers. There were the people yelling and blowing horns. Some were dancing in the streets; others were singing; one old guy was tearing up styrofoam. It turns into a full-on mob-like party in every city.  I could literally hear the ruckus  in my town alone when we beat Greece today. Yes, that’s right. Allow me a small moment to gloat for my country. Take that Greece! Si se pudo!

The fun and enjoyment is in and with the people.

Fluttery

With nobody else home, Todd figured he’d wander around his grandparents’ house to innocently rummage through all their rooms and closets filled with ancient odds and ends. His grandparents were tender folks, and they never disallowed him from exploring their home; nevertheless, as he found his way into his grandfather’s study room, he drifted around as gently and quietly as possible, feeling as if he shouldn’t even disturb the decades of stillness that had settled into everything within there. He permitted his gaze to waft over the trinkets and shelves and pictures, and he even met a few with his hands directly. Eventually, he couldn’t resist any longer moving over to the centre of the room and daring to open one of the drawers in the large wooden desk, which brought along a little fluttery feeling in his stomach. He knew his grandfather had been a novelist most of his life, so Todd wasn’t necessarily surprised to find the desk filled with various pages marked by lines and scribbles — all primarily fiction. His eyes were coaxed over to one page in particular. It was mostly dialogue, which made sense because conversations between people were always some of the most interesting things to pay attention to; and this one appeared to be the discussion between an old man and a young one. Knowing full well that there was nobody around he still quickly peaked up to be sure he was alone and sat on the floor to read the paragraph in his hands. He started here:

After their spell of silence, this said the elder man to the youth beside him: ‘Your despondency stands to reason; it is within our humanity to fall upon occasion.’

The younger man answered him, ‘I do not care to hear the reason for our errors or what I am to gain from them.’

‘Why we err,’ responded the old man, ‘is not equal in importance as to what we do and decide regardless of it. Fall we will, inevitably; the most important thing to accomplish is standing again afterwards. Never surrender yourself to a failure, son. Your very life depends upon your determination to never give up.’

‘Unto what end?’ said the other. ‘What difference would it finally entail if I spent the entirety of my existence falling and rising and falling again?’

Even more gently than before, the young man’s aged companion answered, saying, ‘I am confident you will find a much less-despairing end. As your time goes along, after you have stumbled but embraced your power of choice to persevere through shame to accept the grace to lift yourself again, you will discover presently that it becomes easier stand, and that the falls are much less frequent. It shall come to such a point that one day, you will stop for a moment to realise that you are standing, where previously you would have naturally fallen, all due to the fact that you hadn’t given up before but learned to lift yourself each time.’

Todd heard the front door un-close and close again, and he was yanked from his absorption. Feeling, however, that he had learned what he needed to learn from his exploration, he returned the pages to their tomb and shut the drawer. As quietly as he had entered, he exited the office and scampered into the kitchen to see if his grandmother required any help to bring in the groceries.

Jump

“Can you jump with me? Please! Jump with me. Come on. Let’s go jump. Pleeeeeeeease.”

That’s my five-year-old sister, almost every day when I get home from work — or at any other moment during the day when it’s still light outside.
I’m presuming it’s one of her favourite things to do, with me at least. I have to admit, though, I don’t always consent and go out to jump on the trampoline with her. Gasp! I know. How on earth could I resist the pleading face, the eager hug, the imploring eyes? You know how it is, though; sometimes younger siblings feel like more of a nuisance than a gift….only when you’re so distracted with the so-called priorities in life that you fail to realise it.

I’m really not such a villain though. Don’t worry. More often than not I do go outside (sometimes in the freezing cold) to jump on the trampoline with her. What’s more, I always enjoy it.

I’ve realised it’s about more than just jumping, though. Sometimes I’ll ask her why she doesn’t go find somebody else to jump with.
“No! I wanna jump with YOU!”
I thought so.

It’s not just the fun of the trampoline itself; it’s about spending time with me. Of course, however, sitting quietly beside me whilst I read a book or think about life (or eat cereal) is way too boring. It has to be on the trampoline. She wants to do the things she loves with the people she loves.
Everybody does. That’s how moments are made significant.