The real life pura vida
Have you ever been on a holiday somewhere and thought to yourself, “wow i wonder what it would be like to live here?” This is a question I personally am all too familiar with. It lead me to live, work, and “do life” throughout all corners of the earth. And for some reason, one place always called me back: Costa Rica.
On December 8th of 2016, without a plan or any idea how it would work out, i moved to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. To the tourists eye, this place is the ultimate paradise. A remote tropical coastline vibrantly adorned with white sandy beaches and world class waves. The locals are friendly, the wildlife is bountiful, and the vibe is “pura vida.”
“Pura Vida” directly translates to “pure life.”Its a phrase Costa Ricans use often. It ranges from a greeting, to an approval, to inspiration for positivity during difficult moments.
I always threw the words around casually, but it wasn’t until now that i truly feel what it means.
I will tell you, there is a reason most tourists don’t spontaneously uproot and decide to create their life in a favorite travel destination. It is incredibly challenging in ways we western folks can’t even begin to fathom. For example, in the US and Europe we have this thing called “punctuality.” This word is sometimes whispered about in Costa Rica but remains a myth to the eyes of most. So that very relaxed vibe that you love so much about Costa Rica may also at times become the thing you despise the most.
And when things move at the slowest pace possible, the locals just laugh, smile and say “pura vida.” Their patience and ability to simply let things be continually astounds me.
I used to think I was knew what patience was, and then I moved to Costa Rica. Living here is an ever continuing journey of redefining what patience means for me. Living in a lush tropical paradise is paradise, of course it is. However “paradise ain’t cheap.” And I’m not referring to our pockets necessarily. It is incredibly taxing on our time, energy, ambition and expectations. For example: when your water pump breaks and it takes one week to get the part and 5 days for it to finally get fixed, we experience those moments of “pura vida.” Its those moments of surrendering to the flow, finding the laughter in this reality of needing to shit in the jungle, and mustering up a smile through it all. Those moments of having a car stolen and needing to walk 3 kilometers into town in the rain. In those moments when life really sucks how can we experience “pura vida” with our current reality? How can we find presence? How can we find joy? How can we stay focused on the good?
I share these stories from my personal experiences. These were moments where I felt like with one more hit, i would fully lose it and topple to the ground in defeat. These were the moments that my spirit had to grow, relax, breathe and say “pura vida.” To remember that life is all encompassing, its the dualism of the beauty and the loss.
These are just two of a very long list of silly and outrageous things that have happened to me while living in the jungle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been without transportation because my car or motorbike were broken (often at the same time) and i was left walking for weeks and waiting around on people who move at the pace of a snail. It has been an ever flowing practice of my patience and surrendering into natures time frame. No matter how much I try to control a situation, the reality is, so much of what happens in our lives is out of our own hands.
Everyday i am learning to breathe a little bit deeper, relax a little bit more, and loosen the reins of my expectations. My most diligent practice is to stay focused on the good. To focus my awareness on whats going right in my life and all the things I have to be grateful for. We are powerful creators. I’ve noticed in my life, when I stay focused on the things that are going wrong, the things that frustrate me, and what i don’t want to happen, i actually attract more of that into my life. i attract more pain and more suffering. But when i stay focused on the beauty and magic of this gift of life, the earth hears my praises and responds with more reasons to be grateful.
Its so difficult to stay focused on the good when it feels like everything is unraveling around us. Its like being in a hole and unable to reach the rope to climb out. But the truth is, that rope becomes longer and stronger with our positive thoughts. It is a survival skill. We can put ourselves through any situation no matter how challenging by controlling our mind and the thoughts we welcome into our field.
i personally don’t want to create more suffering in my life. I want an abundant and beautiful life filled with joy and inspiring experiences. And this is actively choosing “pura vida.” Its deciding to be happy though the essence of “pure life”– the good, the bad, and the in between. And every day is a new discovery of our own patience and accepting things as they come. For when we learn to accept and let go, we can join the rhythm of life and the rhythm of nature— always shifting, always changing.