“Nothing exists in a fixed way. Birth and death…keep going on…continually and eternally.”
-Pema Chödrön, Welcoming the Unwelcome (p.111)
My dream to live abroad in Costa Rica for 1-2 years has died. It died in February of this year when I returned to the United States to be with two dear ones** who are dealing with severe health issues.
There have been a lot of tears. And there continue to be a lot of tears. Tears for the end of what I thought was the beginning of my time in the Caribbean. Tears at seeing people I love hooked up to IVs and foley catheters, and even though I know they’re going to make it through this, it also reminds me of their mortality and I cry even harder at the hard reality that they won’t always be around.
Tears for the unexpected ways that my time in the States so quickly brought up old patterns and wounds within certain relationships. Tears at having to make hard decisions and ask for space and time away from people that, years ago, I never imagined I would be estranged from.
“When your bubble bursts, even the most ordinary things…your furniture, your neighbor, how you walk down the street–are stripped of their extra layers of imputed meaning. You find yourself in a groundless, open space” (Chödrön, 91).
To keep it 100…life has been bursting my bubble for a while now. Be it the ending of a serious two-year/almost marriage relationship a couple years back, or resigning from what I believed was my dream post-grad school job after 7-months of desperately trying to make it work…be it leaving my church home after 6 years, or losing friendships in an instant with people I thought would be lifelong friends…Life has been hard. And life continues to be hard.
This unexpected having-to-cut-things-short in Costa Rica was definitely heartbreaking and gut-wrenching, and also: It is what it is.
^^Live footage of me lowkey-stranded/trying to find food in Texas because the day I landed in the U.S. there was a week-long ice storm in Dallas (where my layover was), so my flight was cancelled/delayed for a total of 36 hours and I was in a hotel that ran out of food&no delivery services were operating. #itiswhatitis
I don’t write this in some pessimistic, cynical way. I mean it in the truest, most profound way: It is what it is.
“The rain in the morning isn’t good or bad, comforting or threatening. It’s not even ‘rain’. It’s just what it is. Everything is just what it is.” (Chödrön, 86)
Because the truth of what it is, is: We are all going through it. All of us are experiencing life in its fullest form, and life in its fullest form means constantly navigating death–literal deaths of loved ones, deaths of relationships, jobs, dreams. Life in its fullest form also means navigating the births of new dreams and ideas, new relationships and opportunities. Alongside the bubbles that keep bursting and troubles that keep a’brewing coexists immense beauty that keeps unfolding and joy that keeps a’coming.
More and more, I’m learning to embrace the groundlessness and impermanence of life. #Itiswhatitis…Because things are always changing, like ALWAYS CHANGING. I legitimately thought I was going to be married with a salaried job paying a monthly mortgage and leading a weekly Bible study in New Haven, Connecticut at this point in my life. Then, when that fell through, I made a plan to pursue permaculture and cultivate connections with communities on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica for at least a year. And look at me now, writing this blog post on a felt baby-blue L-shaped couch in Washington D.C., yet again, unsure of what life has in store for me next. But the fact that life is ALWAYS CHANGING means that things won’t always be this way, and that gives me hope.
Right now, embracing the impermanence of life looks like a lot of crying mixed with singing and dancing mixed with yoga and reading and journaling and going on runs and lifting weights and sitting in saunas and eating breakfast with my bestie in DC and impromptu/totally scheduled 3-hr long What’sApp Video calls about Sally Rooney with my Canadian/Costa Rican homie.
The crying is crucial. Because life feels harder than usual these days and sometimes the tears don’t always come. Sometimes I protect mySelf/my body from the absolute overwhelm of all that is happening in my life right now, and for mere survival’s sake I have to disengage/dissociate from the profundity of pain. But then, when I have the capacity and safety to truly feel the weight of it all, I cry. I cry and my tears become liquid hope. My tears become the tangible reminder that I am deeply longing for and believing in a future full of joy and love and laughter and levity. I cry because I believe I deserve those things and my tears are are proof of the heartbreak made real by constantly experiencing things that try to convince me otherwise. Tears help me find the courage to continue to dream and hope and create the future I believe I am worthy of.
In this moment, the future I believe I’m worthy of lies in Colombia 🙂 My short time abroad birthed within me a deep passion for salsa dancing. So much so, that I bought salsa shoes, googled “Salsa capital of the world”, and by the end of this month will be in Cali, Colombia to dance my lil’ heart out.
My dear ones** are currently in as stable of a condition as can be expected, so I feel okay to travel again; but the reality is, my time of traveling abroad is most likely coming to an end sooner than I’d hoped. I don’t know how long I’ll be in Colombia. Maybe one month, maybe three…So I’m taking it step by step, day by day, month by month, because life could change (and already has and continues to change) in an instant. Shoot, I could become the world’s most sensational salsa dancer and then have to travel around the globe wow-ing the world with my amazing salsa moves!
I kid, I kid…But I’m not kidding about choosing to continue living open-heartedly.
So here’s to making space for the tears that make way for the courage to keep on keepin’ on. Here’s to creating and living the lives we are worthy of living. Here’s to saying, “IT IS WHAT IT IS.”
“There is vast limitless richness and wonder we could experience if we fully accustomed our nervous systems to the open-ended uncertain reality of how things are.” (Chödrön, 34)
**I am not sharing any details at this time, as to respect the privacy of the individuals, for it is not my story to publicly share. But if you have a spare moment, I’d definitely appreciate a prayer for me and my loved ones, and honestly for everyone everywhere because we’re all going through it. Thanks ❤