Friday, December 20, 2013

The Sun Will Always Rise in the East

"The days are long, but the years are short." Gretchen Rubin

I have been debating with myself for weeks. Christmas carols, "Should I listen to them?" Every other year there would be no second thoughts, they would be playing non-stop from November 1st right through to New Years. But this is not like every other year. I am not at home, I am not going to have a white Christmas, I am not going to eat Turkey, stuffing and so many shortbread cookies that I have to unbutton my pants. "Should I subject myself to all of the memories and feelings associated with listening to Christmas carols?" I pondered. 

Today I cracked; before I even knew what my hands were doing, I was typing in 'Christmas Playlist' on YouTube. I am listening to "I am dreaming of a white Christmas" and drinking apple cinnamon spiced tea as I write this, reflecting on how this Christmas feels completely different than any other, and how grateful I am for that. 

This week has been the hardest since I have been here. The tides keep turning in my head and as the waves crash upon the shores of my thoughts, I don't fight them. I float, letting them pull me out to have wonderful new experiences, and then pull me back in, where the nostalgia of a white Christmas momentarily leaves me stranded on the shore. While embracing this complex suite of emotions, it has underscored that nothing in life stays the same. Whether we embrace it or not, the world is always changing, we are always changing, time continues to pass, and we continue to live.

Nothing is Permanent 

I remember thinking in grade two or three that I would never graduate from elementary school. Not because I thought myself incapable, but that time seemed so abundant, it passed so slowly and the world appeared static through my childish blue eyes. I remember my dad telling the twins and I to enjoy our childhood, because as you get older the months and the years seem to evaporate. Or as Gretchen Rubin puts it, "The days are long, but the years are short." These two fleeting moments often surface in my thoughts and are captured brilliantly in that quote. It serves as a reminder that nothing is permanent, our lives, our relationships, our moods, our locations. 

On the bad days, this is liberating, because I know that "this too shall pass". And on the good days, and there are so many, it reminds me to relish in the moment, enjoy it, soak it in.  

The Sun Will Always Rise in the East

I woke up at 5am on Monday morning to participate in a Christmas Bird Count. I know practically nothing about birds, but with 'bird watching' on my Costa Rica bucket list I thought the opportunity to go out with researchers and get a 6 hour tour (for free) would be an excellent experience. 

I groggily got out of bed, made myself a fruit smoothie and got on my bike. As we waited for everyone to arrive I looked over to the east. The sun was rising over the mountains, the mist still settled in amongst the trees. I took a deep breath and thought to myself how incredibly grateful I am for all of the wonderful opportunities I have had, not only this year, but in my life. Yes, time passes and yes, I will have bad days, but the good news is, the sun always rises in the east, and that means it is a new day. 

Enjoy the detour
"A truly happy person, is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour." Unknown
Two and a half hours into our Bird Count I was getting impatient. The sun was getting warm, the mosquitos were feasting on my legs, and my frustration with spotting tiny flying objects amongst leafed trees, was mounting. Then I reminded myself, this 6 hours is only going to happen once. I am experiencing something completely new, enjoy it, it isn't going to last forever. 

The boa
As a fairly impatient person, who usually browses quickly through stores, looks straight ahead while running and likes to 'see' and do as much as possible when out, slowing down, and I mean slowing right down (we spent 20minutes looking at one bird), gave me a completely new perspective. We wove in and out off the main road of the botanical garden, something I would have never done otherwise. We spotted Parrots, Macaws, hawks, two kinds of wood peckers and a number of other small birds (We counted over 100 species that we saw just in that 4km stretch). We even bushed wacked our way through a trail and stopped two meters short of a juvenile boa-constrictor. You never know what life may throw at you, this week it was a boa, next week maybe a pit-viper (although I really hope not)! My point is, that life is short and when things don't go as planned (which will most certainly happen) try to enjoy the detour. This detour was a highlight, completely calm and in his own environment, this meter long boa was actually kind of cute.

Sunning himself by the lake

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