We’re going home today after an incredible week in a tropical paradise. I hadn’t wanted to come on this trip, actually. Costa Rica was on my husband’s bucket list, but Central America was pretty far down on my list of places to see before I die. But, he’d been wanting to go for so long, and I didn’t have any good reasons to oppose him except that the rain forest sounded like a scary place and engaging in adventure activities in developing nations seemed about as smart and as safe as going on the rides at the local county fair. But he promised me a nice place to stay on the beach with a pool and someone to serve me cocktails with umbrellas and at that point I couldn’t say no.
Turns out that my preconceptions are entirely unfounded (not an infrequent occurrence, a fact you’d think might register with my gray matter, but not so much). Costa Rica is a magical place (and we all know how much I love magic). It is spectacularly beautiful and completely unpretentious, even at a high-end resort. The people we met were very open and friendly, and everyone seemed to be content with life, generally speaking. I had looked up the weather before we arrived and was nervous about what appeared to be extreme heat, but turned out to be a non-problem with the ocean breeze and a perfect level of humidity--and I was warm for the first time since November, which was such a gift.
But all that will be over in a few hours, as we finish packing and head inexorably back to our real lives, something I find I’m not that excited to do, which is unusual. I’m almost always itching to get back to work and friends and hustle and bustle and the happy busyness of my life in Maryland. Not to mention our doggies, whom we haven’t seen for a week. But this time, I’m in no hurry and would stay, at least a little longer, if I could. I have been so relaxed here, and sleeping well and feeling so productive, all at the same time. It’s been like a fantasy.
So my question is, what does this fantasy have to tell me about my reality that I need to know? First off, and something I’ve known for quite a while—I’ve got to get out of the cold. I hate east coast winters, but summers in the swamp aren’t a whole lot better, with humidity you can cut with a knife that coats your skin like nasty sunscreen. So, I need to make a plan to move. Check—we’ve got that going on, although not until our kids graduate from high school. Second, my week in paradise has taught me the value of quiet space to think and to write—apparently, I have a lot to say—and taking the time and effort to excavate all of this from my psyche has been exceptionally worthwhile. I hadn’t really stopped long enough to make the space to let myself—my true self—flow in, like the tide.
What I have learned from watching my view out the window here in Costa Rica is that the water comes toward the shore, no matter what. As the saying goes, time and tide wait for no one. This is certainly true. But, in different places, the shore has different characteristics. In front of where we’re staying, the beach is sandy, with a gentle slope towards the water. A little further down the shore, however, there is a large outcropping of rocks that the waves hit with a certain level of force and crash over and around.
Kind of like how my authentic self has been trying to get some bandwidth in my mind so that I can be aware of who I really am and what I really want. Up until fairly recently, the huge waves of my true self have been repeatedly been hitting the rocks of the persona I’ve created because I thought I was supposed to or because I didn’t have enough self-esteem/respect/confidence to do things differently. These elements of my persona, the face I created to show the world (and myself) how fabulous, smart, and together I was, were so many rocks on the shore of my inner reality- blocking important elements of my authentic self from having access to the soft, sandy beach (I’m really not sure this metaphor is working, so just go with me on this one, will you?)
Turns out, I like to have a bit of time to sit and read and write. I prefer, at least more than I thought I did, to be casual and un-made-up rather than wearing my power wardrobe every day. I prefer walking on the beach to using an elliptical. Turns out I’m a lot more of a human being instead of a human doing than I thought I was. Revelation.
And, most importantly, at least for this little space and my current activity, I’ve had some time to interpret and process the idea that I can build an identity on my previously hidden and guilty pleasure—reading smut. And how cool is that? I’ve been practicing telling people (who I’ll likely never see again, granted) that I write a blog on finding authenticity in vampire porn. And yes, they look at me a little funny, but I’m okay with that.
Because, for once, they are looking at me—revealed in a very visceral way, not the me I usually choose to show everyone except those few who are part of my very limited circle (all of whom look at me funny pretty much all the time).
So, I’m finding truth in fantasy all over the place, not to mention all over the world. I‘ve learned it is everywhere, and I plan to keep searching and sharing. I truly hope you’ll come along for the ride.