My Welcome Home Surprise

Happy Monday! It feels like forever since I talked to you all last, but let me tell you…Costa Rica was amazing 🙂 Not only was the food outstanding and the people humble, but I was in stress-free heaven for 6 days. I didn’t workout, think about school, or worry about graduate school. The only thing on my mind was enjoying my family and myself.

Out of the entire trip, by far my favorite part was being with my parents. We haven’t spent that much time alone together in years, and it was much needed. Some might think it’s weird that my parents and I are so close, but I’m blessed to have such a compassionate family that there’s no place I’d rather be than by their side. We get along so well, and I think many of you saw that from the pictures I posted on Facebook.

Every morning, we sat on the villa patio with a cup of coffee in our hands, and we enjoyed each other’s presence. We talked about life, what we were going to do that day, and embraced the moment. That’s what I’ll remember most from the trip. And to be honest, we’ve only been apart for 3 hours and I already miss them.

Another thing that resonated with me was Costa Rica’s motto…”Pura Vida”, or “Pure Life” in English. They use it in every aspect of life…to say hello, goodbye, thank you, etc. They truly embody those two words.

When I took time to understand what Pura Vida means, I realized that it comes down to a few things…

First, it means to be humble. There is nothing fancy about the way Costa Ricans live. They walk to work from what we would consider a dilapidated home. They eat simple food and ensure nothing goes to waste. They put others before themselves and take no more than they need. They respect their environment and those around them. In short, Costa Ricans live like saints!

Pura Vida also means to be grateful. Costa Ricans might not have much, but they don’t see it that way. They see what they do have as a blessing and a gift to share with others. That’s something we can learn from…we need to stop wanting more and more all the time. There’s nothing wrong with wanting something new, but living in constant pursuit of the next big thing leaves our souls always wanting more. Much of that desire could be quelled if we appreciated what we have first.

Most importantly, Pura Vida means to enjoy life. Something I learned very quickly was that Costa Ricans are not in a hurry to do anything. They drive slowly (the maximum speed is 50 mph). They walk slowly. They even talked slowly enough that I could understand most things that were said to me in Spanish.

A great example of this was the leisurely service we received at every restaurant. It was so sluggish that it would anger even the nicest American, but to them there’s no need to rush. Mealtime is about savoring the food and the view. It’s about enjoying the moment with your family. It’s about taking a deep breath and letting the weight come off your shoulders…it’s Pura Vida.

And I think we can all apply their motto to our lives. We are so hurried and easily angered that we let our negative emotions take control of our lives. This is evidenced in the rising rates of depression and hypertension and the declining levels of spirituality. Life isn’t meant to be dreary or sad. It’s meant to be vibrant and fruitful. Sure, there will be times of struggle and heartache, but they shouldn’t consume us every day. Rather, they should be met with family support and a will to overcome. But we don’t see it that way…and maybe we should.

I’m guilty of it too, and I had to exercise Pura Vida just 8 hours after being back in the States…

Our flight landed at midnight Sunday morning, so my parents spent the night at my apartment before driving back after Sunday morning Mass. After getting little sleep, I think we were all in a frenzy leaving for church, especially me. As we were pulling out of the complex, I realized I forgot my wallet. So, I pulled the car over, ran back to my apartment, grabbed my wallet, got back in the car, and began to drive off when I felt two massive bumps. My stomach turned.

As I was driving away, I managed to clip the curb with the right side of my car…the rubber was chipped off the tires and my rims scraped. Talk about a welcome home, right?

To be honest, I didn’t remember pulling that far over and was so flustered that it didn’t even occur to me to consider the curb. I was too focused on trying to get to Mass on time. Of course, a slur of curse words came out of my mouth, my face turned red, and my blood pressure went through the roof. I was pissed. I was pissed at myself for doing something so stupid. I was pissed because if I had slowed down for a second, I probably would have remembered the curb was there. I was pissed because the stress came back within seconds.

At least I know where my birthday money is going!

But really, I was angry for hours. All through church it was the only thing I could think about. I couldn’t tell you a word the priest said or what the readings were about. I sat there replaying the moment over and over again…”what if this” and “what if that” consumed me.

As I drove to the gym after telling my parents goodbye, I had to remind myself that nothing is worth getting that worked up about. And honestly, it was probably a test from God that I failed.

No matter how our journeys are going, there are going to be blocks in the road. There are going to be moments where it feels like we are on top of the world, only to find ourselves buried under the snow moments later. We can’t prevent that.

But what characterizes those moments of chaos is how we respond to them. As cheesy as it sounds, I need to be grateful that I have a car to run over curbs with. I need to be humble with how I respond to the situation. And I need to remember that I can’t let the rest of the day be pigeonholed by that one small incident. Sure, it’s going to be expensive to fix, but that shouldn’t stop me from enjoying what was probably an outstanding homily. It shouldn’t prevent me from hearing God’s Word. It shouldn’t take away from family time. Life is too short for us to let any of that happen.

So maybe this week, let’s all try to live out the Costa Rican motto “Pura Vida”. Let’s be happy about what we have, grateful to be alive, and enjoy every moment we can…even the rough ones. Who knows, we might find a little bit of happiness deep down inside of us we never knew we had. We might begin to cherish meals with our families. We might even smile.

As always, thank you all for reading! Don’t forget to like, comment, and share…I’ll talk to you on Friday 🙂

“Life is what you make of it…Pura Vida.” ~ Anonymous

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