Friday, November 20, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Sunshine and Rain

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." ~ Nelson Mandela

By nature, I have a very hard time with good-byes. Today was our last day with the abuelitos, people I have grown to love in such a short period of time. How is it that in 4 days for a total of 12 hours, I have come to care so much about people whom I barely know? How is it that our hearts open up so freely to so many in this beautiful, foreign country?

We were encouraged by Oscar, the activities director, and Dona Sandra, the passionate owner of the Center at San Raphael, to say ‘hasta luego’ (‘see you later’) rather than ‘adios’ (a more permanent good-bye). I settled on a saying that I heard all the time when I traveled to Venezuela 15 years ago, ‘via con Dios’ (go with God), and I meant it more than anything I’ve ever said in my life. In my heart I knew that is was quite possible that I might never see any of these abuelitos again and I suppose that’s why the tears came so freely and quickly despite my desire to hold them back. Among people who love so freely and easily, I have found that in this week I have learned to love more freely, too. And so, the tears of good-bye were unstoppable, as were the smiles. In Costa Rica, the sun often shines as the rain falls, so tears mixed with smiles are only natural.

As predicted, the people here have offered up much more to me than I think I was able to offer them. I wish I spoke Spanish with greater fluency, and I resolve to do so by the time I visit again. I wish I had more time here. I wish I didn’t have so much debt from business school so that I could afford to give more money to groups like CCS to continue their work in communities like San Rafael. I wish I had more freedom to do what I want to do whenever and wherever I want. Travel, and international travel in particular, provides the distance and space we need to allow our dreams to take root.

I returned to the CCS home base with a heavy heart, with so much gladness and sadness – glad that I could be here, glad that I could be helpful, and sad that our time here was rapidly drawing to a close. My favorite part of the CCS home base are all of the quotes and hand prints that past volunteers have put on the walls. Volunteers choose quotes that encapsulate their experience here - the one above by Nelson Mandela was among my very favorites and really got to the heart of how I feel about my life now that I have been in this beautiful place for a week.

The quote I chose for the wall to accompany my hand print at the CCS home base is my favorite, a quote that gives me courage and strength and embodies this idea of “now is the time”. It’s by Victor Hugo, the author of the book Les Miserables, and very simply states, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” This idea of carving out the life I want, a life of freedom and mobility and generosity, in this strange and beautiful world is an idea whose time has come.

My time in Costa Rica has confirmed that yes, now is the time for me to go after everything I want in my life: my own business, more international travel, the opportunity to teach yoga and to teach at a university level, the ability to effect public policy to provide a voice to those who need our attention and care, a loving, committed relationship, and much more time with my friends and family. The opportunity for this life has been with me all along, though it took traveling many miles from my home to realize how much is within my grasp. It’s with much thanks and gratitude that I bid farewell to the abuelitos today. They changed my life more than they could ever possibly know and more than I could ever possibly tell them.


Laura | The Journal of Cultural Conversation said...

I love this! I am so excited for the things you have planned and the things we have planned! I can't wait to hear all about your experience my dear! I can't believe we almost met in Miami!

Christa said...

I know! How crazy - what time did you get to Miami, Laura?