by Satonya McNeal, English Major
Adjusting to life in Costa Rica wasn’t too difficult initially, but eventually the novelty of the country wore off and certain days I would get so lost in myself that time became something I had to wait for rather than exist within. I was becoming mentally and physically drained at having to engage others in a different language and being constantly faced with the endless struggle of forcing my brain to translate Spanish into English and vice versa. I became frustrated because I wanted to passively sit by and let the language permeate my mind, but I soon came to realize that I had to actively participate if I were to grow with the language.
With this shift in perspective and no escape from the language itself, I was soon letting words slip out of the recesses of my memory into the open and it was the most rewarding feeling to hear the words hit the air, and see them succeed. I was finally beginning to realize that learning a language was a decision I had to make for me and I had awakened an intuitive judgment within myself giving me direction and allowing me to fully immerse myself in the failures and successes of adapting to a new culture. I became enraptured with learning more, but my high soon faded and my learning experience plateaued.
I realized that I often seemed to forget the small things; the seemingly insignificant details of the day that otherwise go unnoticed. The reality is that these intimate displays of sun washed scrutiny were over exposed by the temptation of distraction. An incessant willingness to be disposed toward days to come and forgetting to focus on the flow of life occurring now. I was surprised by the hundreds of people surrounding me so different from myself; each one of them indifferent to the stretch of days on a distant horizon to collectively become their daily life. I realized that these people weren’t searching for a profound truth, or infatuated with a chance to discover what lies beyond the weight of their regrets or struggling to catch the bus so as not to be late for whatever easily forgotten task they wold have to perform next. I learned that these people were just living. They were busy smelling the lazy waft of anomalous foods sneaking out of the many small restaurants called ‘Sodas’. They were busy observing the ever changing spectrum of light in the sky; a typical commodity in Costa Rica otherwise known as rainbows. The laid back people of this happy country have taught me that it’s good to truly stop in the midst of whatever is occurring in my life that I believe to take precedence over everything else and appreciate what I have right in front me.
I’ve learned to be thankful for how lightly soft music awakens my ears; how even though it can be unbearably dark at night there are still moments the moon reminds me of its glow as it illuminates streaks of my bedroom floor. I’ve learned to be thankful that beautiful words exist and that they can roll off my tongue after I’ve tasted bitter coffee on my lips. I’ve come to recognize that leaves fall in love with the ground and flowers breathe sunlight. I’ve begun to take exceptional interest in the simple things around me because now I know that passion is blooming everywhere waiting for me to discover what it means to me.
Once I stumbled upon this realization of my own disconnect from my senses it was as if Costa Rica was a new country all over again. I’ve always wanted to go white water rafting, and I was lucky enough to have this opportunity presented to me. I set off to Turrialba, Costa Rica where the beautiful sky blue Pacuare River resides. The water was quiet yet ever flowing as a gurgle with no apparent destination. Once my paddle sliced the water and the raft was set in motion I had no idea what was going to happen next. Something terrible could happen or something great and either way I realized that this moment was destined to become a learning experience. Acres of emerald green trees lined the river, drunk on the sweet thick moisture of the air stretching their limbs urgently toward the sky to greet traces of wandering clouds. Through every tumultuous drop around smooth misshapen rocks, I couldn’t help but smile, and my heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my ears.
That feeling, it was the beginning. I was hyper aware of the subtle display of nature’s beauty all around me, and recognized that I was no longer going through the motions of living, but I was truly living in the moment.
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