1st Day Of The Rest Of My Life (PURA VIDA)
Little did I know that last year my life would be changed forever. Sure, I traveled before all around the U.S. East and West Coast, Mexico, Canada, and Bahamas. They were trips I took with friends, family and significant others, but something was different about this trip to Costa Rica, meant to only be a week long vacation. Aside from being the furthest I had been from home at the time, it felt special somehow. Like many restless souls, I have loved traveling since I could remember. Getting away, even for a quick weekend trip was refreshing. I had been working in the corporate world for a good 12 years or so. Sitting in a cubicle with horrid fluorescent lighting and breathing in stale enclosed air. Constantly daydreaming about the next getaway trip or even just the weekend to come so I could spend time with friends or family. Counting down the minutes until the hand on the clock reached 5 PM and I could bolt out the door.
Life quickly became routine and mundane with no real thrill. I tried filling the time not working or sleeping with a few of the things I came to enjoy such as watching movies, reading, going out with friends, shopping, working out, cooking and of course, relationships. Still, I always felt something was missing. I was mostly satisfied with life but I can’t say that I felt excited or super happy. I felt a lack of purpose. I was just getting by, time dragged on through the hours, days, months and years. So much time was lost.
I had a decent job, made more than enough money to get by, paid off my debt, purchased a house and a new car, was in a long term relationship. On paper, I checked off all the boxes. Everything seemed like it was going right in my life. According to what society says we should want out of life, anyway. So I couldn’t really complain, what more could I want? Why was I still feeling as restless as ever?
Something far away was calling out to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but traveling to escape from everyday life wasn’t simply enjoyable. It also taught me, reminded me how much more there is to life than just material things and money. I had spent years trying to fill a void with material things, accumulating stuff. Sure, having money helped but I realized I was focused on attaining those material things for the wrong reasons.
Going to see a movie, reading a thought provoking book, (Tuesday’s with Morrie), going to museums, operas, festivals, etc. were entertaining and I couldn’t get enough. And then I realized the real reason those things were so enthralling to me was because they allowed me to pretend I was in another place or time. Soaring off in my mind to a far off land or a different era in history. It was all just a tease, I wanted more. I wanted to experience those places for myself! Take in the beautiful sights with my own eyes, hear, touch, and taste it all. Visiting those places and immersing myself in the culture, interacting with the locals was an absolute must.
It wasn’t enough to visit the tourist laden attractions anymore. I wanted to venture off the beaten path. Step foot off the ship, outside of the swanky resorts that had all the westernized, modern and comfortable amenities. I needed a challenge, to step outside my comfort zone. Sitting on the gorgeous Playa Hemelas just watching and listening to the waves crashing, I had my big epiphany. It was then when I made the scary choice to quit my current boring life as I knew it and travel solo for the first time. I was in a foreign land with no real plan, no set time frame, completely alone and uncomfortable... And it was in that moment that I was finally able to breathe. I could actually open my eyes and really see myself and the new life that lay ahead. I understood the meaning of Costa Rican's saying and way of life that is “PURA VIDA”. I finally escaped. The feeling is indescribable and I have no plans of turning back. No regrets.