I settle down to write this on a cool, drizzly morning over on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. It’s been months since I last posted; I’ve returned from Europe, and the time has passed in a blurry whirlwind, in which I feel I’ve lived 10 lifetimes. Last week I finalised my first non-legal article for a proper magazine, on a topic most important to me (health!), right as I was actively reminding myself of my own self-care practices in order to stay sane. In particular, take time to just breathe: easier said than done when my sinuses have been assaulted by the worst allergies I’ve had in years, caused by dusty dry season winds affecting Nosara – the last place I was based.
That was one of the reasons why I fled to the Caribbean, with its inverted climate, where the wet season has just arrived and a gentle humidity is already starting to ease my congestion. Yet in other ways, my body still feels like it’s falling apart. My body’s allergic inflammatory response has triggered pain in my joints, and I believe I’m also still reeling from the poison of a scorpion that stung me the other day. Pierced by the worst stinging pain I’ve ever felt in my life, when it happened I immediately ran outside and voluntarily pissed on myself (another first!); having heard that urine is an excellent remedy for scorpion stings. It certainly dulled the pain pretty rapidly, although I felt a combination of fire and then numbness in my hand for the next twenty-four hours, and am still suffering from an unusually swollen tongue and puffy eyelids.
Yes, even out here in my jungle paradise, I am being tested. Life isn’t rosy all the time…
But I’m learning more than ever how to shift negative thought patterns and sink into deeper appreciation for all the gifts that each day does in fact bring. When the transfer I was in from Nosara to the capital, San José, broke down just thirty minutes into the start of a 6-hr journey across country, I found myself suggesting to the new friend I was riding with, that we should hitchhike. With my two backpacks, three instruments, her tonne-of-bricks suitcase and several bags of food, we soon piled into a car with two filmmakers from the United States who had in fact also just met that morning.
Nothing seems to be going to plan these days; but equally, as I embrace the constant change, ebb and flow of this rollercoaster journey, I’m meeting new interesting people, experiencing new adventure, and finding new opportunities.
In the end I made it to San José (just in time for dinner, some nine hours later), and the next day’s car ride to the south-eastern most tip of the country, near the border with Panama, went so unbelievably smooth I wondered if I’d in fact mastered the art of teleportation.
And so this morning I wake, after sleeping at my sixth place of the month. One of those places was on a hilltop under the stars (for the Geminid meteor shower: not because I was homeless). Today I am feeling a deep, tranquilising sense of ease in my body, though I’m physically exhausted – I was up most of the night with chills and sweats.
Yet, there is something so utterly perfect about my experience and all that led to my arrival here, which I am appreciating as I sink into a state of deep presence in the here and now. I’m in my perfect home: wooden, completely open, surrounded by nature, with a steaming cup of organic coffee. The friend I’m staying with is tucked away upstairs working, and it feels like I’m the only human soul on the planet here. I’m immersed in the lively noise of the jungle: the chirping of birds and insects, the rustle of monkeys in the trees and animals in the bushes.
I look up from my computer screen and my eye rests on a giant leaf, formed in a perfect heart. I smile, and remind myself that everything is perfect just as it is: that I am held, supported, and loved by the earth.
Physical displacement, and feeling a sense of “homelessness”, has been something I’ve struggled with for most of this year. I seem to be burning through homes, and having endless housing issues. I’m even in a legal battle with my landlady: she refused to allow me to sublet (or even grant access to a friend of mine to collect my possessions) when I was stranded out of the country; yet insisted on full payment of rent. The rebel in me finally summoned the courage to stop paying after being a good girl for a few months, and pouring a decent chunk of money down the drain, all the more noticeable given I’d stopped earning.
I guess I just want my “space”, my little drama-free nest, a place to cocoon and focus on my projects and in particular my writing. Part of the issue, though, is that another part of me is shunning commitment right now. There is a financial element to this: I don’t want to lock myself into a rental, in circumstances where every time I’ve made such a commitment this year, it hasn’t worked out and I’ve lost money. But deeper than that: we are in times of real change and uncertainty. I feel I still have lessons to learn about how to embrace that, how to be adaptable, and make a “home” wherever it is that the winds take me – by grounding myself through ritual and daily practices to stay centred. I’m also realising more deeply than ever, how to appreciate the physical earth itself as my home: time in nature is so fundamental to my wellbeing, that simply stepping barefoot out onto the soil brings me a comfort like no luxury palace ever could.
You may not be physically on the move like me: but there is no doubt that present circumstances are throwing up a lot of change and instability in a variety of ways. The pandemic is bringing endless new challenges: from financial, loss of jobs or change in working life, to emotional – how we relate with friends and family over distance, or how we adjust to living together when locked down in close confines. As these challenges come up, remember that every difficult situation brings with it the opportunity to learn and grow. Dare to make the most of every experience that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Don’t contract into fear. Now is the time to expand, to learn, and to equip ourselves with the skills to create a better world when we emerge from beneath the veil of Covid-19.