Costa Rican Notes #2: Go With the Flow
I feel very privileged to be able to go on a journey, leave work behind, seek warmth, beauty, a chance to recharge the batteries. But the big question is and remains, will I be able to let go of the control, the responsibilities? Can I experience my time in a fundamentally different way from the way I have been living, day -to-day, and for example, be less addicted to e mail? Time will tell.
When I was much younger I was better at practicing the notion of "go with the flow." Trained in Gestalt Therapy I know that "being in the moment" or in the present was an essential ingredient for key Gestalt creator, Fritz Perls, along with understanding the web of relationships in which we find ourselves. Perls created the creative technique of the "empty chair, " to help sort out "what is me in the other person," to have empathy for the other, and to reconcile our own polarities, another key ingredient to mental health.
And of course the wise Ram Das produced a classic book from the '60s... "Be Here Now, " " an influential and seminal work, which still stands as the highly readable centerpiece of Western articulation of Eastern philosophy, and how to live joyously a hundred per cent of the time in the present, luminous or mundane."
These days the mega guru is Eckhart Tolle, who urges " The Power of Now, the name of his huge global best selling book. Tolle writes that "the most significant thing that can happen to a human being [is] the separation process of thinking and awareness" and that awareness is "the space in which thoughts exist." Tolle says that "the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it".
Of course none of this wisdom is new-- being in the present is the center piece of most spiritual practices, but often quite elusive. That is hopefully part of my journey in this beautiful country.
Ironically, my first opportunity to "go with the flow' and was more of a consequence of my prolonged departure process, of a large numbers of things to finish before I left. My former colleague Cynthia Sharpe, used to call this "demented departure" mode.
This working 'til the end meant, that although I was heading to a somewhat unfamiliar country, I had made no plans, behind a one night hotel reservation upon landing in San Jose. I had an idea that maybe I would head for Montezuma, a hippyish beach town I was in for a couple of hours, a couple of years ago. I also knew at some point that I would try to make it to the Osa Peninsula, a special place that various friends, Ilyse, Paulette, Marty, had been to and raved about.
Still, I didn't really have a plan to get to the Osa. So maybe, just maybe I was half consciously harkening back to the "go with the flow" model. After all, how often do i give my self the chance to move forward, without plan, to see what comes up.. As Bob Dylan once wrote: "Dogs run free, why not me? "
Sitting next to me on the plane , headed to Costa Rica was Brigette, a transplanted Canadian, an artist, an organizer of music festivals , a some times yoga teacher, and a lovely, open and grounded person. She lives in Playa Esterillos Oeste, a beach town, surfer spot, maybe two and one half hours from San Jose., with her husband Fred, who is actually Dutch, and had moved to Canada when he was 19. Fred being Dutch was a sign for me, because my father's ancestors are Dutch, and I love Amsterdam, having visited it five times. Brigitte said, "just in case you are interested, my friend Eleanor has a couple of lovely cabinas, in a beautiful spot in Esterillios. I checked the spot out in my Guide book, and writer was pretty dismissive -- a minor spot, along a stretch of many surfer towns. Hmmm. Still my gut said.. trust this women Brigettte. Go with the flow.
And I did. And Esterillos Oeste is a fabulous place, with magnificent beaches. Eleanore's cabinas are swell. There are a couple good restaurants, a super market that sells Silk soy milk, and a nice little community of mostly Canadians who picked out some beautiful spots to live, and some friendly Ticos. But I knew going with the flow paid off when on my second day, Brigette e mailed and said to run over to her and Fred's to see an amazing three toed Sloth sleeping in a tree in their driveway, so close you could touch it. Here is my photo of the cutie pie.