I've been living in Costa Rica since December 6th. I say living (rather than visiting) because before I left, I put all my belongings in a storage container only knowing that I wasn't going to rush "back." Back means so many things and is certainly not confined to a city or a relationship or a friendship or a way of being.
Not one to fangirl over traditional notions of progress - particularly the linear models - I still can't argue recently with the image of forward motion. Yesterday I debuted a new movement manifestation technique here in the surf town Playa Guiones, Nosara, where I have put down roots. In this innovative new interactive format, I had workshop participants stand in the middle of the room after an hour or so of education and preparatory work in their journals.
Where they were standing was like "neutral" gear. They were simply exactly where they are, just as you and I are right now. And then I directed their attention to two diagonal directions, from where they stood at the intersecting point like the base of a "V" shape. I asked them to move to the lefthand corner and there they had to describe all the past patterns, aches, pains, disillusionments and other frustrations they had related to a single area of their life.
Dealing with one theme and a single participant at a time, we would touch on a subject such as their love life, for instance. As they stepped into the left hand corner position of the room, which to circle back to my opening of this article may signify "backwards," they would list all the painful cycles in this area that they'd like to extricate themselves from: perhaps ambiguous commitment, abusive communication patterns, lack of communication in their sex life etc. That would infuse this area with a charge that was uniquely personal to them particularly so in their acute frustration at returning to these issues perennially despite their best efforts to change them.
Invariably, as they would discuss the limitations of this way of being and how they yearned to reach beyond it, they would begin to formulate what would occupy the space in the opposite corner, where we would soon migrate. This "forward" position would connote all the ways they wanted to feel, experience, receive, invest in and create in this aspect of their life. To go with the above example, it could be: rich conversation, mutual attraction, a life partner with similar taste in activities and lifestyle etc.
Then we would return to the centre position and refer to their list of questions and areas of ambiguity in relationship to this aspect of their lives (a result of the earlier written exercises in the class). Taking each interrogation and indecision as their starting point, they would feel into their body and see in which direction this step would take them. For instance, if they kept dating "person x," would this lead them one step closer to their forward direction or would it more accurately be a step back to their starting / past position?
Illustrated in this way, it became so clear that almost all of our decisions and actions at their energetic root are forward or backward motions, so long as we make clear what we want to make manifest in our lives. Taking manifestation out of the realm of wishful thinking and mood control, it trickles down to our bare accountability, so long as we can be honest enough with ourselves to listen to our soul's barometer.
I had been saying I wanted to move out of Montreal since I was a teenager. I made many failed attempts to do this - near starts, if you will - which came accompanied by a barrage of excuses and life detours. A year ago my mom moved out of her long time home and I had to liquidate my boxes from the basement. I found an old journal from a volunteer trip I had taken to Costa Rica in the summer of the tenth grade and on the very first page, written the day I arrived in the country, I wrote "I am going to live here someday."
It stunned me that 16 year old Natalie had foresight about what 36 year old Natalie felt last spring driving through the mountains in Costa Rica in my dad's truck, watching the velvety green countryside roll by me while in an enchanted trance. I knew that I craved living in this kind of environment even if the ramifications of what such a move might mean on many fronts rattled me.
Our intentions, dreams, wishes, fantasies, desires and daydreams are like breadcrumbs we leave for ourselves throughout our lives, to the point where we hear ourselves repeating the same stories in a kind of dully nostalgic way without ever taking them seriously. So when I booked a flight here with no clear idea of when I'd return and with my dog in tow, I knew there was no going "back." Maybe I didn't know fully, but I know it more and more every day that I live it.
We don't trust ourselves enough. We claim we know what we want but we are so quick to give it up at the first opportunity, thinking so little of ourselves that we feel we must grovel at what is presented to us and be grateful for what we have. Gratitude should not be weaponized against our compassionate hearts as yet another tool to keep us complacent and reluctant to heed to our inner longings.
If we didn't trust that faint whisper of desire and curiosity or the body's urge to step one way or the other, we would never set foot into a new realm of pleasure, satisfaction and exhilaration that we didn't even know existed from our previous vantage point. When we stay comfortable in the confines of the familiar, it seems as if the whole world is also obeying the same laws. This couldn't be farther from the truth.
The moment you move into a new paradigm, you realize it is in fact radically different than the previous one, and that forward motion is not at all the same experience as staying still. It is of course possible to feel stillness amidst even radical movement, but that's another story entirely.
Jay Shetty says something along the lines of 'happiness occurs somewhere at the intersection of gratitude and growth'. We don't need to stay immobilized, stuck or play small to show reverence for the people, places and experiences that have formed us into being. And the truth is, sometimes we will have to take a step away from the very things that we have been most thankful for and send them love as we move away. Marie Kondo says it's important to say thank you to whatever object you part with in the decluttering process. It is crucial to keep this grace in mind as you simplify your terrain of action.
Similarly, if you scorn your past as a monster you are trying to escape from, it's more likely to nip at your heels. If you can embrace it and hold it in serenity as the storyline that allowed you to become the person you need to be today to make a change, then it no longer has to hurt, overwhelm or weaken you. I won't lie, there will be discomfort as you take your distance, but even this can be done with love.
I was marked by a recent quote on Instagram that read "you deserve to be loved and chosen, not almost loved and almost chosen." This doesn't only apply to a beloved. The situations, people and vocations of our life should also be wholeheartedly chosen by us if we want to extract all the magical potential they hold in store for us.
We don't want a life composed of half choices.