Stark Comparisons

March 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

My recent travels have sent me to two of the most extremely different places one could imagine: New York City and then Nosara, Costa Rica just a week later. Comparing the two helps lead me to what I need, where I am happiest.

New York:

View from Central Park


Hustle and bustle. People rushing. People everywhere. Destinations in mind. Everything you’d imagine it to be.
Just choosing lunch resulted in a debate between a couple of delis next door to each other, more across the street. Its just a deli! But we couldn’t decide what we wanted. Dinner was the same way. We picked a district, then walked around thinking as though serendipity would help stumble across the best restaurant. It was far too easy to be overwhelmed with choices such that making a decision was difficult. I would never be able to live there; I’d never be able to “know” the city. I’d never be able to tell you my favorite restaurant because I’d feel the need to eat at a different one every night. Part of me loved the sense of adventure for the few days that I was there, but my heart didn’t feel at home, it wasn’t at peace. There’s a feeling of home that comes from being in a place you love or just around people you love; you know that peaceful feeling that washes over you from inside your soul, relaxing you, eventually oozing out of you in the form of a gentle smile. Sometimes you get it from a smell that takes you back to another place. I often get it from “mountain” weather. But, despite the fun, excitement, adventure and enthusiasm I have for visiting again (clearly there is a lot more to see), “home” will never be a word a use to describe NYC.

Costa Rica:

Playa Garza

Embodies peace for me. Well, Nosara does anyway. The land is beautiful. Unencumbered by too much construction. Everything is simple. Mostly open air restaurants and bars. Even the yoga studio was open air overlooking the rainforest. The idea is simplicity. Choices are limited. You could eat out every day for a week and you’d cover every restaurant in town (and even then, you’d have pizza at least twice, and traditional Costa Rican, or typico tico, food a couple of times). Personally, I could live on the fruit alone…and maybe some agua pipa (coconut water). You can get to most places on a bike, by foot, or even four-wheeler. There is no “rat race.” I suppose you could opt to be the figurative Jones’ if you wanted to; set the standard for the town to aspire to. But, why? Converse to our typical American outlook, where you’d have to fight to be “out of” the rat race, there, you’d have to fight to be “in” the rat race. Life is more about what actually matters. Everyone goes to the beach for sunset, beer in hand, and watches (or surfs if you’re good enough), while the kids play. Who needs a cell phone when you know you’ll see everyone at the beach for sunset? This atmosphere could be “home” for me. My soul is peaceful. My mind has room to think about imporant things, mediate on life, rather than becoming clustered with the useless decisions of where to shop, where to eat, etc. Without the pestering unnecessary decisions, I can decide if I want to surf or fish, hike or kayak with my spare time (tough life, huh?). I realize that if I lived there, I’d work hard so I’d lose the vacation mentality, but my soul is peaceful. The sense of contentment radiates out of my pores and all I can do to express it is close my eyes, and gently smile.

Maybe that’s what we need. Maybe we need to experience drastically different lifestyles and places before we pick where we’re happiest. Rather than just riding the coattails of the decisions our parents made, setting out our “home” for us, we should question, fearlessly explore, finding where our souls are at peace; finding a place that we can be home.

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