Sunday, May 21, 2006

Qualitatively Speaking

So strange is this grip on me of this feeling that wants to stick on, suck me into those all too familiar fantasies and delusions. Even when here I am in god’s paradise – this surreal country of Costa Rica – where everything seems to have a magical quality. The constant stream of birds, tittering and chattering and singing in merriment and amusement. The stunningly blue sky and deliriously golden sun and the gray blue ocean and the lush green hills and trees. The warm, friendly people who have adjusted and accepted the shift in their own eco-culture since the presence of the foreigner – gringo – sustains it with a steady infusion of the almighty dollar.

Side note: As I sit here sipping a beer on this warm humid afternoon looking out into the surreal landscape, a blue iguana stops by to say Hi. It looks around, chews on some floor dropping, not really sure where to go. And then, in a quite matter of fact fashion, gives me a half-nod and ambles on, each thrust of a paw contorting its body in an absurd fashion while its muscley tail firmly slithers on the floor. There is no confusion here. The birds give it its space, dancing over and around it, not teasing, just hobnobbing.

Everything is in flow. Even the crocodiles in the soggiest muddiest of rivers, Tartalia, yesterday, were content in doing their thing. Laying around, lazing around, widening jaws and opening paws to pose for our pictures. Even obliging to snap the chicken out of the daredevil tour boat driver’s hands to allow us a full view of their hideous profiles for our Kodak moments.

The ocean breeze sweeps over my sweaty skin – the beady bracelet sticks to my wrist and my bare feet lay folded on the cool stone floor. My breath is even, my head is clearing from memory and analysis, and clouding now, with the buzz of the afternoon’s first beer. I wait for Madjiel to pick me up and take me back to San Jose for my final two days in Costa Rica.

How does one qualify a life experience? It’s easier to quantify isn’t it? Swinging high through long tall trees with no ground in sight – careening at breakneck speed through a canopy in the forest – Kierkans the guide egging me on in that strong and encouraging way. A lovely lunch with a Venezuelan family discussing the … merits…. of Bush and Chavez and Miami and New York. A visit to a coffee plantation, swimming in warm blue ocean and lazing on golden sandy beaches, driving through pelting rain on unpaved treacherous roads to finally reach the beautiful hamlet of Manuel Antonio. It’s easier to cross all of them on a checklist and quantify the overall experience – done that, done that, oh, just managed to catch a glimpse of that, spent 2 hours doing that. And overall, I am happy to report that I managed to accomplish 75 percent of the recommended adventures in the Discover Costa Rica! traveler’s guide!

Now that’s a pretty good experience, eh? How would I qualify it, though? Can one? What was the overall feeling as I spent a week in this amazing country doing my own thing, at my own pace, in my own space? There were many moments of losing myself completely in the experience. And there were others where I executed hard and strong effort to force myself to ‘lose myself in it’, the paradox of the exercise not quite lost on me, even as the effort got stronger and the outcome more fruitless. There were moments of quietness and peace, moments of wonder and awe, moments of simplicity of human connection and moments of excitement and delight. And there were other moments of sadness, thoughtlessness, anxiety and loneliness.
Always, though, whether I knew it or not, they were moments unfolding in Pure Awareness.