Lyrical Art Session

Phone Notes

Create a thought that turns into rhyme,
Wish your many dreams could become mine.
All I crave is a today where tomorrow and yesterday don’t exist,
So we can hopefully one day all just coexist.

It may sound impossible or even a bit crazy,
But let the rest of the world speak for you and that’s when things get hazy.
The privileged few should realize the circle of life,
And take into account those without a future in site.

That’s all I got for now so pick up a pen,
And create your own gem.

A Little Older, A Little Wiser (I think)

In about 2 weeks I will be turning a quarter of a century. I arrived to Costa Rica at the age of 22, just so happened to arrive at a time where I would be celebrating 3 birthdays in the span of 27 months. Interesting enough as I look back on my arrival in comparison to present day I can’t help but realize how much everything feels just like yesterday in my mind, but in reality of course it isn’t. A total of some 730+ days have passed since that first day and so much has occurred mentally, spiritually, and physically. I write this as if my experience has already ended, but that isn’t true, nor do I intend it to be, I only wish to convey an experiment from now until my time left (which I will reveal towards the end).

Now what I would like to do is give you an analysis of how my change thus far and I recommend everyone to monitor yourselves from time to time in order to keep oneself on point.

Areas of improvement (at least ones I recognize thus far): cooking (the more work you take to prepare a meal, the more satisfying and rewarding the experience will be in the end, something I had never practiced in my life until being without a microwave for once in my life). Communication is another clear improvement. I notice myself now as a clear cut individual who is not afraid to go up and speak to any random individual (something you must master during your time here if you wish to actually establish some sort of solid relationships). As I continue to write out these improvements, I want to highlight the word improvement, which means I still have a ways to go (like with everything in life) to master (or coming as close to being right for me). The last area I will touch on for now used to be a sensitive issue in my life, but I am no longer afraid to publicize it or am I self-conscious to admit. My ability to control my anxiety and depression is an area I finally addressed in my life. For so long it was a secret I kept to myself that pretty much haunted me despite having such “success” with academics, getting to see the world, and overall having a solid upbringing. I suppose that’s why I kept it to myself for so many years, because what did I have to be depressed about? That wasn’t the case though; this was something I could not control at least that’s what I’ve learned about it to this day.

Now the reason I put these topics in the spotlight, specifically my case with depression, is in order to help others address any internal issues they may be dealing with. Once I was able to admit to myself and ask for help, that was the first step towards a new beginning. It hasn’t been the easiest road, in all reality it’s been probably the most difficult experience in my life, having to take medication daily and seeing psychologists and psychiatrists. It can definitely get overwhelming and those who have experience with anxiety will understand that’s definitely not the feeling you want. Over the course of the time with it all there comes a point when it finally all begins to click, like a steam engine train finally picking up speed. Once you reach this point it’s almost like the no turning back line. I will give you the grim reality of this experiment it will not be easy, nothing worth working at ever is, it will take time. But the point of it all is to better yourself as is the whole point of life, is it not?
The only way one will be able to overcome any obstacle in life is by continuing to push through the thick and thin. For me a fighter mentality is what has helped me throughout the course of my life, especially the phrase “echale ganas”. It means roughly “give it your all”.

So the point of this, simple, to give that extra push to those who may need it, to open the door to those who may need light on the issue, and lastly to continue my improvement with the issue myself through a therapeutic solution such as writing. Stay tuned for my final posts as a volunteer.

Poem from COS conference

Mil Gracias

De mae a que jeta
Siempre teníamos una meta
Un dicho de pura vida
Nos ayudaba con cada caída
Lo que aprendimos en su país
Vamos a compartir con nuestra raíz
Nos dieron comidas típicas a probar con mucho gusto
Aunque tal vez teníamos mucho susto
Ustedes nos han acordado de nuestros vecinos
Mil gracias por abrirnos tantos caminos
Lo que sigue son las despididas
Y por eso queremos agradecerles por ser parte de nuestra vidas
Nunca nos olvidaremos del montón de dichos
De chunche a tuanis hasta los pinchos
La amistad con los ticos ha sido tan bella
Que vamos contentos de dejar nuestra huella
Mil gracias le damos
Por conocer que todos somos humanos
Y si Dios quiere nos vemos en el futuro
Eso si te le juro

-Dorian Díaz del Castillo

The Close is Close.

In about 3 months life will drastically change once again for myself. I’ve already begun to toy around with the possibilities of life outside of Costa Rica. Two years here feel like a time warp from reality (or U.S. reality to put it best). Living here has been such a blessing, finally being able to realize what life is like without the constant rat race at my nose. And to tell you my truth I love this life, despite being so isolated and far away from family/friends. It has helped me feel a greater sense of responsibility to Mother Nature and the basics of life (as outside thinking as that sounds). What took so long getting used to is almost over, and I feel like it’s just the right amount for now (this rural type of living). Many times I’ve had time to think and one of my outcomes is that this has given us a preview of life as an older person (way older). How? In the sense that we have quite a bit of time to sit and enjoy the finer things in life such as books, crossword puzzles, coffee times (that’s right times, like 2-3 per day), etc. I have relished it all, but I have now realized that I’m ready to rejoin the rat race for my lifetime of work, but I’m only going to rejoin the race in order to be able to return to this type of living (rural life).

Of course there will be parts that I will miss very much, but as I’ve grown accustomed to, life will continue on with new places, faces, and mazes. Having traveled quite a bit in my short life has prepared me for saying so many good byes that it no longer has that type of heart wrenching effect.

But before I get ahead of myself because there are still 3 good months here, I will share the greatest effect that my Peace Corps experience has donned on me, the beauty of being at peace. Prior to joining there had always been an inner struggle that was greater than anything I could fight alone. And it is by far (despite being a little selfish) the greatest accomplishment for me during my service, because I no longer feel any of that struggle, I’m just at peace. It is really quite a unique and extraordinary feeling for me, because now that it’s gone, everything is just so calm and relaxed. So peaceful that it has taken a bit of time to get used to, but I’ve been adjusting the best I can and I know it’s only a matter of time until it is just a part of me.

Even though I have not written on here in some time it does not mean I just completely stopped writing, I have pages of new rhymes and thoughts that well I hope to share one day, but for now a slower approach to writing publicly is what’s best.

That’s all I have for today, but in these next 3 months I hope to share more of my final thoughts and experiences here in Costa Rica.

Growing Up Bi-Cultural, Living Cultured Pt. III

As the months continue to pass, I seemingly wish you could just hit pause and soak in everything around you, but that’s not how life works nor is it made to just sit around and do nothing.  I haven’t written in a while because I seemingly haven’t needed to or felt anything to express, to be completely honest.

For a long time now I’ve used writing as a means of expressing what is bothering me internally, but now that things have shaped up I find myself less and less interested in writing about any sort of topic.  I know though that I thoroughly enjoy it so why do I allow myself the comfort of saying oh nothing’s wrong so why right?

Well that’s the next phase that I suppose I’m trying to learn.  If I only turn to writing in times of need then it will continue that vicious circle (if you know what I mean).  Instead of allowing the circle to ever happen I decided to continue writing and hope to prevent the circle from ever taking form, rather creating a new line and now I’m getting far more metaphorical than I really ever imagined to in this piece.

Anyhow I’ve been living exceptionally well in Costa Rica and have thankfully found work in these recent months that are not my typical classes that I give once a week.  I’ve been slanted towards grant writing recently and have found the trait rather monotonous and repetitive, but I suppose if they are already set up this way what can one do (anyhow that’s beside the point).

I find it incredibly (insert unknown word here) whenever I tell fellow other (volunteers, family, friends, etc) that I’m working on these grants.  The reaction from all is always the same, “Wow, great job”, “Good job, good for you”, I suppose the reactions are fit, but never have I looked about the work with equal mentality.  That might be the reason I’m continually an outsider looking in whenever volunteers gather in mass bunches.

Recently I’ve been trying to trace the root of my difference, and although I have not been able to pinpoint an exact ideal, I have at the least conjured up a few notions that may very well lead to the exact ideal.

First off, I am, but am not at the same time like my fellow colleagues.  I cannot speak for the whole lot, but for the most part I suppose my background has a lot to do with it.  Growing up Latino in America, parents being born in another country and both having fundamental traditional values and simplistic mindsets that do not necessarily expose themselves to the rest of the States ways of thinking.

(Never in any way, shape or form am I trying or not trying to say I’m better or have it harder, or what not in this piece, just an fyi, just trying to see what I can express out of this mind and put to paper and if it so happens to sound that way, than I’m sorry in advance, but maybe not, who knows?).

In addition, I am full percentage male Latino in the bunch of volunteers (what that means is both parents were born in Mexico).  This may or may not add to the end all ideal, but it is by far the most notable difference.  As much as we like to say that race does not matter, nor should it matter.  I’m here to say it does matter, occasionally.  A lot of what people feel comfortable around is usually stemming from the location in which they are surrounded and that usually ends up being in their homes (most notably in their home countries as well).  The reason I state this is due to the fact that I was asked recently how it felt to live in a Latin country for the first time being Latino.  The answer I gave was quite simple, I thoroughly enjoy it, I can walk around without any hint or even smell of blatant, or even subliminal racism floating about.  There is no judgment felt when traveling about, and all of the above create a sense of peace inside me that is a feeling unlike any I’ve had.

Truth be to my told unless we lived in a Utopian American society I could say the exact same statement I made above about living in a Latin country, but the fact of the matter is we don’t and it sometimes can get difficult living in such a mixture of traditions and beliefs that it creates a sense of angst and powerless might (or maybe I’m just making that up?)

Coming full circle now with my notion of reactions from telling fellow volunteers I’m writing grants I still suppose I would not react the way most do.  My view is simple (or maybe not) but inexplicable at the moment.  I’ve been trying to find the word that would sum my feelings towards the reactions and the work itself, but nothing rings a bell. Needless to say my feelings are this, I view it just as normal (but not quite) every day stuff.  Nothing special, I suppose what I’m trying to really get at is the idea that I do not like the fact that these two grants that I may or may not get will end up being used as a scale of accomplishments of what I did during my experience as successful good volunteer work.

To me I honestly can’t stand that notion that it’s only based on what you got them rather than what you shared with them and they shared with you.  My time with the people in my community is what I appreciate the most, especially the families that consider me part of their family now and never do they look at me and expect anything in return.  But I suppose there can’t be an accurate judgment of who integrated more than the others, nor should it ever be a competition of any sorts.  Each individual has a unique trait that he or she will bring to their community and I suppose in the end that’s all that really matters.

Well I’m sure I confused you by now, so I’m going to end it right here, because I’m honestly starting to get attacked by bees floating about and I need to move about, so take care to everyone back home.

Primero

I often like to create rhymes and this right here is my first attempt in Spanish (well at least rhyming).  Hope it makes sense.

Primero

Quisiera saber de todo
Pero como el mundo es tan grande hay que decir ni modo
He viajado por mucha tierra
Con la guía de Dios por donde quiera
Quizás un día sepa mi destino
Al mismo tiempo tratando de ser el mejor padrino
Con mis decisiones siempre he tratado de ser el ejemplo mejor
Pero ahorita lo único que siento es el demasiado calor
De niño a hombre la transformación casi se completa
Que rápido pasa la vida mae que jeta
Aproveche cada día
Aunque a veces la agua este fría
Sepa que siempre tendrás una guía
Hasta en las noches cuando sientas la melancolía
Al fin de todo esto
No tengas miedo de contarme lo resto
Siempre estaré para ti
Escuchando la sabiduría que tienes para mí
Nunca se termina de aprender en esta vida
Esto es lo que me gusta más de la vida
Y cuando termine con todo
Nunca voy a decir ni modo.

Neighbors

I was listening to a song recently and one of the lines really sparked a comparison of what I’ve lived and am living today. City life in the states compared to rural life in Costa Rica.  Let me see if I can explain both properly enough for those reading to comprehend what I’m trying to get at (or frankly if there is anything to get at…).

City life oh so quiet, decongested, and natural (intense sarcasm there); quite the opposite actually.  But I’m going to take it a step further than just a city in general and use where I lived as an example.  A great way to describe where I grew up is through this line from a song, “But I didn’t have neighbors, that’s why they call it hood.”  Back in sunny San Diego, there are various living extremes throughout this fairly large city, and I’m not saying where I grew up is super dangerous, nor am I trying to give it a bad reputation.  I am merely going to state the fact that I did technically have neighbors, lots of them at that, but never did I actually know any of them or go next door for a cup of coffee.  I don’t even have a clue what their names are.  The difference between the surroundings from my home back home and my home here is like me telling you to eat a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich (they just don’t go together, that’s just nasty thinking about it, so hopefully that gives you an idea of what I’m working with here).

Getting accustomed to greeting everyone walking down the street definitely took me a while and still to this day I find it occasionally uncomfortable because for 22 years in solely city atmosphere I was used to walking with my head down and a purpose in mind.  Of course now that I have about a year and half under my belt here it makes it a bit easier to say hi to everyone since that’s the environment here.  It’s quite contagious just like most environments.  I never really noticed how I started to blend in until my family came to visit and acknowledged that I had adapted so well.  Well to tell you the truth it has been quite the rollercoaster ride to get to this point and now that I am here, I’m trying to figure out that next step (just like most people in life).  We are constantly looking for where we are going to go next (at least that is the city mentality and idea of constantly moving).  Except right now I feel like I am at a standstill and I am okay with that, but it’s just a weird situation to be in since it’s so new for me to be okay with just living.  For so many years I was used to the idea of what’s next, where to now? And now I’m at the extreme opposite just sitting and observing.

This brings me to my next idea which is the fact that this experience has brought about more change personally and subliminally than I could have ever imagined.   I may not have many concrete changes in my community, but I know I have changed the thought process of Americans in a good group of individuals.  And to me knowing that I have at the very least completed the main “goals” of Peace Corps gives me a great amount of satisfaction.  I have for the most part never wanted to look at the objectives set upon me as objectives.  In my honest opinion this experience has been more so based on the quality of my relationships within my community (and I have always tried to make that my focus).  Knowing that my time is approaching the final stretch definitely gives me this added pressure to see if I can add actual concrete changes before the end of my service.  But the matter of fact is even if I don’t succeed with at least one concrete change, I already know my time here will have been more geared towards a different and simple objective.  That being the illustration of the quality of people there are in this world throughout the States especially (I know I’m basically talking myself up in this case, but I don’t do it often and nor do I mean it narcissistically).

So for now, going from the “hood” to the campo has been quite the whirlwind of an experience, but I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.  I cannot speak for everyone only myself in this scenario, but I definitely enjoy being able to go next door to a neighbor’s house and just say hi occasionally (or even be offered a delicious cup of coffee).  I always wanted this missing aspect where I grew up.  I remember times when I couldn’t even go in my backyard to play because that’s just the mentality in this part of town.  You can risk it or not risk it.  So for a boy who grew up not being able to risk it to have gone so far around the world, it brings me pleasure knowing that I have risked it but never do I want to take advantage of the fact that I’ve been given so much opportunity.  Thus for my time left here in the CR I hope to finish strong and hope that motivation can be just as contagious as a yawn.

Alright I want to cut it off here (even though I really didn’t talk about much), because if this gets any longer I’m assured most will get scared of the length and not want to read.  So take care and hopefully my writing doesn’t go astray too long again.

Get Rhythm

When you achieve a great rhythm in your life it’s always a subliminal wonderful feeling.  Your days usually pass without much concern or craze, life just seems as it’s supposed to be (at least for me).  I’ve noticed that usually when I’m in a great rhythm everything just seems to add up.  I also know how difficult it was though to get back into this rhythm.  The mental struggle within yourself to get going is possibly the hardest explanation one could try to make to another individual.  This is primarily because every person has a different internal struggle, that really only they understand (but what we can do to help is just be there for anyone struggling). By being there I really mean,  I have no clue how to help you personally.  All I know is what worked for me, so that’s what I’m going to tell you now.

For me daily exercise is my key to happiness/rhythm, something about sweating and feeling that I’m putting myself to work is an accomplished feeling that generally boosts my mind.  Here is the hard part though, getting my mind out of lazy mode and into workout mode.  That’s like going from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds so you know it’s not that easy or cheap, cause usually fast expensive cars are the ones that can do that.

The absolute hardest part about this whole transition process is what I’m going to say next and that is you must train your mind to accept that this is will be a slow and thorough process of getting back into rhythm.  Living in the city often creates such a fast paced environment even mentally that we believe everything needs to go fast, especially losing weight and getting back into shape.  The fact of the matter is it’s nothing like that.  Actually most of my “campo” life here helped me see that.  If you take time to observe the nature around us, such as the trees, grass, plants, so on you can tell most of everything around us has a rhythm, a process of slow and steady that usually ends up with a wonderful thing called life.

Far too often when we are not enjoying life there is generally a lack of rhythm missing.  Everything is just jumbled out of control because we let it get that way, because it’s actually part of the whole life process as well (you know the whole Simba circle of life kind of talk).  It’s just some people get stuck sometimes getting around full circle and don’t know how to ask for help whether it be for whatever reason internally or even externally.  But the only thing I can recommend is push through, even when you think you can’t you have to at least try and try and try again (because what’s a life worth not trying your all?).  And one more thing, don’t be too proud to ask for help, it doesn’t get you anywhere (trust me on this one).

So I leave you all with that to think about and for those already in a good rhythm keep it up (maybe even see if you can help out someone get to your level).  That’s all it takes sometimes is a helping hand (man this is getting really cheesy all too fast).  I’m going to cut it off here, at least for now.

10 days.

Cuaresma

Whether you may be religious or not, it’s always nice to have some kind of motivation/positivity around you, correct? It’s especially nice in an isolated area such as the Peace Corps, where days upon days pass without seeing another individual who speaks “your” language. 

During this Lenten season I told myself I would make my best attempt to use this season as a way to get back into the rhythm needed for everyday purposes in general.  So far, so good, but the real point of the season is to get you thinking about the individual you strive to be on a daily basis.  That to me is a thought we all need to ponder about more often (you may be thinking when during my busy ass day am I going to find time to do that?) Well I know it may sound easier than it probably is, but a nice little reflection right before going to bed isn’t so bad.  And a nice little thought in the morning when you wake up wouldn’t hurt either.

I don’t know but I struggle tons to keep up with this, but I’ve noticed the times I do keep up with this rhythm I generally feel a whole lot more giddy (yeah almost like a little “school girl”) and hopeful about my day. 

The main point of all this mumbo jumbo is really just to get some people’s rhythm back or at least heading in that general direction.  It’s not every day that you get read something that entirely positive since news in the world loves to focus on the “juicy stuff” right? 

Well be it as it may, struggle or no struggle, religious or not, I believe “almost” everyone could use a little positivity/motivation in his or her life.  Over here there is an always constant feeling that one must be doing something to reach out and make a difference as the volunteer.  In all reality though, just live, enjoy the current day, exercise, listen to music, read, lay in a hammock, go visit a family in the town, and sometimes that’s enough to call it a day.  The most important part of being a “volunteer” is just living here and the occasional taking part in community “things”, depending on one’s site of course.  Some peeps may be in the middle of the boonies and a community thing might just be enjoying a meal with a family, meanwhile big city volunteer may be enjoying a beer on a Friday night with a host brother or sister and that itself is cool just as well. 

Most importantly above all though we have to be ourselves here (well if you’re safe and sound of course) and you’ll see how normal you’ll be treated.  I think too many times as volunteers (and people in general) get stuck inside our heads because we are constantly vigilant about being noticed in our towns.  Fact of the matter is, you will be and you have to learn to live with that or else you’ll go crazy (trust me, been there done that).

I feel as my writing has been a bit sloppy recently, because there have been just too many great ideas (Peace Corps/life ideas, to clarify my smugness) running around in my head and organizing them all is always difficult for me.  But you may notice an increase in the number of posts within the coming weeks because I am going to try and polish it up a bit again (my writing that is). 

Alright that cleared out of the way. There’s only one more topic I would like to bring about and that is my excitement for the visit of the familia Diaz del Castillo coming to Costa Rica.  Getting to see the big picture of what I live around every day and how my life has been over the past year and a half is a great feeling for me.  Also the feeling of things coming full circle definitely makes life in general seem as though it’s truly just “normal” again.  Nothing to me is better than having that feeling.  “Normal” whatever it may mean to each individual in this big little world. 

Okay well as for the current state of lent, and everyone else who may not be keeping up to the “T” with it.  I hope it may find you or at least the spirit of it (and you go searching for it as well, because you know everything is 50/50 in this life).  For me at least this feeling has all of me right now (and I hope it may continue just day by day, play it as it lies). 

Making That Extra Push

When I look back at the memories in my life that have needed an extra push I realize all of those times are of course necessary in order to test yourself, to visually and mentally see if you can succeed from that pressure and pain.  And every time I’m happy to report that I’ve overcome them thus far and been able to see myself mature little by little (but the point I’m trying to get at really) is this isn’t just about how I’ve been able to overcome, but how anyone can do it (well with a little help of course).

Everyone needs a little help every now and then and it’s just a matter of pride usually that comes in between.  There are in other cases the feeling of being overwhelmed (maybe the feat seems too difficult) or the just flat out feeling like you’re meant to be a certain way (which is a tricky one, and hopefully I can do it justice trying to explain my version of it).

For me right now being able to write again on a positive note is an extraordinary feeling (just trust me on this one).  My motivation mojo is back and well still in progress, but I’m more than happy to share what I got going on and hopefully it can be contagious (well the positivism of course).

Right now I’m in a state of euphoria to be honest; in about a month (si dios quiere of course) my whole family will be visiting me in this beautiful country of Costa Rica.  They will finally be able to see the life I’ve been leading down here.  Hopefully it can be an eye opener for the young-ins and a mind pleasing trip for the older ones (mom, pop, and sis).  Visiting the world is such a beautiful thing.

Alright back to the value of the conversation.  I want to go straight into what I believe is the most difficult mindset to get out of and that is feeling like you’re meant to just be a certain way.  For the longest time I thought for some sadistic reason that in my life I should/would never be happy.  This thought stuck with me for quite some time more than 10 years to be completely honest.  I had gotten so used to living this way that I basically began to accept, this is how I was made (I honestly believed that).  I know I may have accomplished a good amount of “feats” but the mind of another individual is and always will be such a mystery.  Some are less blessed than others, but that should never be your voice of reason for not shooting to making sure you yourself as happy as you could truly be (I hope that makes sense).  I’m proud to report though that after years of this thought I have finally ridded myself of that darkness.  It was no easy road, but I literally found a way (through reaching out to different people and making honestly the best effort I had in that whole time frame it was around).

It could of course be another personal problem that troubles you or a friend, but for many years I was too proud to reach out for help and admit to myself I was having troubles that were deeper than I myself could handle.  That is why the whole point of making that extra push, is don’t be afraid to ask for help, it doesn’t mean you are any weaker, it took me quite a long time to figure out it’s actually quite the opposite.  Admitting your problem(s) (I know it’s weird to hear) is actually braver and more commending in the end.

Well that’s really all I wanted to address right now, things are going very well here in Costa Rica.  Time is flying by and soon enough I know I will be saying I wish this time hadn’t gone by so fast, so I’m enjoying my experience and wishing everyone back home the very best.  Oh and post script; don’t look into things too much, keep it simple stupid.

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