|Nov 2011||Dec 2011|
My physical journey began on a shinkansen ("shink"--bullet train) from Okayama, Japan on the early morning of 14 November 2008, while heading east towards Osaka. Then, onto another train to Kansai International, where I caught a plane at 1:30 in the afternoon to arrive in Detroit, Michigan on that very same day--two hours earlier at 11:30am (talk about a mindfuck). From there it was on through Miami, Florida to depart at 7:50pm, to then land in Alajuela, Costa Rica by 9:40pm (which really ended up being after 11pm on account of delays) 14 November 2008 (sound familiar?). Indeed.
I decided to move to CR while I was living back in the states and finishing up my BA in Political Science. I searched high and low for an environmental/cultural experience that would challenge every thought and instill question beyond the common idea that runs our society like a goddamn machine.
I wanted to change something. I wanted to change everything.
And so, I found PRETOMA in CR offering a position as a field coordinator on Playa Caletas at a makeshift camp made out of driftwood and advertising tarps. With no running water and no electricity, they wanted to change everything, too. They wanted to introduce this concept that culture and tradition could be embraced, while educating the public and preserving organic life that was fundamentally far more important then, say, eating sea turtle eggs or mass trawling for shrimp in protected waters.
I was extended the field assistant position from PRETOMA (and accepted) on Earth Day earlier of that year. I was so psyched on leaving that I began looking for apartments immediately. I didn't know why, but I knew I couldn't go and come back until I felt accomplished in my conservationist conquest; my personal conquest, too. These are the actions you take when you feel driven. You seek and you anchor a new idea or passion. Sometimes it's far away. For me, it was always this way.
I used to think that growth must be achieved hand-in-hand with leaving. That unsettlement sent us away to better places and better dreams unclouded by emotional confusion and turmoil. If you can't fix problems here, fly away. But problems do not fix themselves and if a human cannot take the stand to demand difference in appropriate ways, then things stay the same or get exponentially worse. This is a powerful symbol to be taken how you like.
Things don't always work out as we have planned. Those concrete battles that have everything to do with unrelated uncertainty keeping us from standing firm in our passions and beliefs: like standard of living, environmental friendliness and preservation, the ways we treat others, the lack of respect for ourselves that, if present, would create an enhanced living environment for all.
And so, I moved to CR from Japan (the reasons why I left from JP and not Ohio are obsolete, as are the reasons why I returned back to JP instead of staying in CR). But something changed. I changed. And every concept and premonition I had of society, human nature and motivation, societal bonds and ideas, political and natural concepts that has lead or divided us into a species of greed and hate; love and nurture.
After my time in CR, and once I arrived back in Osaka, I already knew that I had evolved in a way that embraced the universe as compassionate, and I had settled on the idea that conceptual interpretation is entirely constructed from the human mind; that life can be created, maintained, and/or destroyed by the judgements and opinions in our hearts towards others. And so, I left Japan and returned to the real outdoors as a zipline tour guide and high adventure/leadership coordinator where I was able to spend my days expanding the minds of children, while teaching adults about the importance of respect, and the difference between pride and honor.
It has taken me three years to fully embrace the trajectory of the experience, and the meaning behind the person I have become. To lay this aftermath in readable format for people to see beyond a personal adventure as a field assistant to CR, but to apply these concepts in a way that enhances life and day-to-day living in the lives of your own.
Costa Rica was my second international place traveling and living far on my own. The first time I worked outside in the wildness, continuously (24/7). The first time I ever found myself lost under command. Protection-less. Unafraid of contamination. Challenged. Materially unprepared and improvised. Free and inspired in that way that doesn't go away from your daily thoughts and decisions. Can you relate to an experience that has shown you who you are in certain situations and how naive you were to believe or act a certain way? Your ignorance of ideas or perceptions of systems you thought you understood?--like how other countries use soft power on lower developed countries to degrade the environment and create personal gain; how drugs ruin a present soul; changing interpretations of logical distance in a place full of vast countryside, and natural boundary (like the distance to the nearest hospital). The ability of power to change the soul of an entity. Or the pureness of a person that holds peace in their heart, and the curious force that binds them to the earth.
It is unnecessary that you read the story. But if you did, I hope that you realized the struggle of an emotional human in a very physical world, and interpret it in a way that coorilates with an equal, but subjective struggle in any given circumstance of your own. Do not forget that we all endure hardship, struggle and fear. That we all bleed, and love, and thrive on the same earth. The one and only Earth. That I will not hurt you as you do not hurt me. And if you so happened to read, I am sure that you noticed...
Not only did CR teach me the sad tragedy of large-scale businesses (businesses... masterminded by people) who are blinded by profit competition, but CR also showed me that there are better people with the potential to be amazingly genuine about protecting the environment and are actively interested in learning how to make their lives healthier as they lived, surrounded by nature. I learned the beauty and complexity of animals and their symbiotic relationship with their organic homes. I learned the ability of natural phenomenon, the respect of a kilometer, the lack of privacies in the wild. I learned that all animals must eat. I also learned that some animals must also be eaten, as well as eat other animals. I learned that I am against organized dictation of the earth in the forms of plantations such as the teak forest full of howler monkeys in Coyote; broadly, drilling and mining in the oceans, overfishing, commercial subjugation of not just lower developed countries (LDCs), but of all consumerist populations.
For the past few months I have written about my experience in CR. Perhaps you have recognize certain themes that spoke of respect, acceptance, excessiveness, and simplicity. At times while I was rereading and typing all of these entries I felt as if I had a far different opinion on the meaning of true experience. These are not themes that I live my life by now--not in the same sense. Before, these themes referred to things like, respect others' opinions; accept that people primarily value their own beliefs above others; do not live a life of excessiveness and unnecessary; master a life of simplicity.
Although I still believe these things, far greater lesson have been learned through my experiences after CR and beyond. Now, life now is something like, respect others as you respect yourself, accept others as you accept yourself, excessiveness removes self-reliance, simplicity saves the world.
I spent a lot of time focusing on my own self journey rather than reaching out to my equally transplanted comrades in a new place who were also living through their own respective confusion and growth. I wish I had all of the knowledge then, that I have now--to thrive and lift others in the collective journey of not just self-discovery, but remind others of the important mission set forth before us in Costa Rica: to save endangered sea turtle populations; to help implement overfishing and by-catch awareness, while encouraging a collective environmental perspective that focused on conservationism rather than research.
But it's never too late, and there is never regret in the sudden discovery of a better mindset in respecting the ones around us. If we respect each other, we become better providers for the universe. We think of others throughout our daily journey, and our actions reflect this. I just don't think life is so bad that we must push others out of the way and sacrifice our brethren for a better chance... because the chance lies in the collective. The collective of ______. It's all the same thing.
Since the experience in CR, leaving Japan, and divulging on these experiences and aftermaths throughout the years, I have found myself permanently back in the fieldwork limelight as a full fledged conservationist and simplest in Miami, FL. My lifestyle is entirely based on simple and sustainable living in the hopes of extending and protecting a world for others. I have dropped my biases towards humans who hurt the earth, and I have learned to appreciate all good and bad facets that create the living world which we are most aware. I've done this by surrounding myself with pure souls, pure foods, pure interpretation of nature and of living. As a researcher, I am lost in the manipulation of environments that achieve pages of data to be presented in front of committees who ultimately control the destiny of these findings through their own personal agendas and opinions of interactive science. But as a conservationist, I have found my peace in knowing that all the self-good I do towards my environment and others is most sustainable without the approval of groups racing to place their research at the forefront of an intellectual battle that distracts researchers of their reasons for hard work. I express these conflicts in the form of "researcher" v. "conservationist", but this is merely a weighted opposition of my own device representing two conflicting sectors within my own dimension. You are left to interpret your own devices just the same, as you affiliate yourself with one belief over the other. But my dream is not to win. My dream is to see the two opponents of any segregation, reach across the table and unite; shake hands and realize... honor, not pride, will be the instrument that nourishes life.