Casting Off the Bowlines in Ticalandia

I am definitely backlogged in blog posts from the past two weeks that I’ve spent in Costa Rica. It was a trip of the most intense and concentrated form of human revolution that I have yet had. Every day a profound lesson was learned. Not a complaint in the least…this is why I value travel as much as I do. You learn something new about culture, people, identity, and it allows you to delve further into yourself as you stretch your comfort levels and sense of adventure…

I’ve decided to start my slew of future entries with the number one theme that seemed to be present the entire trip. In fact, it surfaced as soon as I sat on the plane and conversed with two young men also heading to Costa Rica, and to la pura vida.

 Moving to Spain has been a dream of mine for many years, and while a variety of reasons have held me back from fulfilling that dream, the main one is a sense of pressure I feel from society to follow the status quo: get a degree, find a job, launch your career, have a family and re-start the cycle.

While I don’t like to think of myself as a conformist, and have done several things outside of the box, when it came to the larger issues of life like career and finance, I really was conforming to standards I thought existed and were quite naturally followed by everyone. Isn’t this what the “American dream” is after all? And isn’t that, at the end of the day, what we’re seeking? Isn’t that what success in life means?

 But in my heart of hearts, I am a traveler and a writer.
 The first person I met as I embarked on my adventure was a young man who courageously realized he needed a break from the daily grind to rediscover himself and revitalize his life. Throwing caution to the winds, he took a step off of the path of status quo and headed down to Costa Rica to seek what he needs. Through our incredible conversation, I realized how much courage it requires to do such a thing, to take such a large diversion from a straight and flat road already laid out for you, and head into the dirt road filled with potholes with an unclear and unknown end in sight. But he knew that he needed something else in his life, and he took the steps to make it happen. For so many people, that seems impossible, and they deny themselves what they so desperately need, weighed down under societal pressures and limitations.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Anonymous

Up until very recently, I enjoyed that my life was planned out, and words cannot express how hard it was for me after graduate school to not have the next stage in my life readily set up for me. My first trip down to Costa Rica is what made me realize how much I relied on those stages and as I battled with the idea of whether or not I truly wanted to be a teacher, I know now that really my battle was a result of the seeds planted in my heart that it’s okay to do things that don’t necessarily follow an ABC sequence.

Let me briefly note here that I am not trying to downplay how difficult life is or ridicule anyone’s life choices, whether your dream is to follow the road of school and career, or to do something “outside of the box.” Whichever path you choose, there are obstacles along the way. I write of the importance of following your heart, whether it is in applying to a school you simply think you can’t get into, studying subject matter that doesn’t seem to bring in any money, or in pursuing your dream of writing an international bestseller while you travel the world.

Against all scientific odds this grass took root and grows in chemical filled waters. Do we truly know what the world, and what we ourselves, are capable of?

Against all scientific odds this grass took root and grows in chemical filled waters. Do we truly know what the world, and what we ourselves, are capable of?

Throughout my time in Ticalandia, I continued to meet young people who cast off the bowlines and were traveling around the world, whether it was simply for the pleasure of travel, to regain a sense of balance, or to figure out what their next step in life would be. There is truly a changing of the tides beginning in our generation as more and more young people form and forge their own paths, doing what they believe to be right for their own lives. I find their examples inspiring and filled with hope as they risk leaving the safe harbor, sailing away towards the unknown.This second trip to Costa Rica is what is pushing me even more to follow my heart rather than thinking about what is “logical” and keeping my dreams at bay with self-imposed limitations and doubts.

In the beginning of March, I reached deep into my heart and reawakened my dreams of traveling, studying literature and art history abroad, writing, learning new languages. I almost immediately backtracked as I realized that none of these dreams follow a logical sequence and are not apparently linked to my passion for education. But as some inspiring young women and sisters in faith told me, life has a way of coming together in ways that you could never have imagined…the important thing is to dive into life and do the things that you love doing.

And as if the universe wanted to re-emphasize that message, I met another traveler whose story epitomizes this point.

He was hanging out in the hammock in front of the hostel the morning of our last day in Monteverde, an older Brazilian man, probably in his late 40’s. A writer at heart, he had had this dream of traveling and being paid to write for decades, and worked hard to lay a foundation to get there. And years later, he receives funding from several companies for his articles about the culture and people of the countries he is traveling to for the next four months. One of these companies works in conjunction with high school aged students, who read his articles and who he communicates with, inspiring them and teaching them through his travels. Temporarily leaving a wife and daughter behind, he is finally accomplishing his dream and while he does so, educates and inspires both the youth, and the people of Brazil.

This man’s experience has profoundly impacted me, practically knocking me off my feet, because there was a real life example of educating and inspiring through writing, while my closed-off mentality convinced me that the only way I can teach is in a classroom.

My next step: pursue my dreams of travel and writing and seek to change the world not simply by going into a field that seems the “right choice” to make, but by undergoing my human revolution, and being true to myself.

Sailing away into the shore, looking into the wide expanse of an adventurous and unknown future.

Sailing away into the shore, looking into the wide expanse of an adventurous and unknown future.

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