Thursday, December 27, 2012
Manuel Antonio park is a nugget of Pacific coastal paradise, wisely protected from hotel developers by and for the Costa Rican people. Its sandy beaches and warm surf attract masses of sun-thirsty tourists. Hidden behind this "attraction" is the real attraction, many kilometers of little-explored, narrow, muddy trails.
It was on one of these trails that I was given the gift of serenity. Abandoning the glazed masses in their blind march to the beach, I climbed for a kilometer along a clear, gurgling stream. At a clearing in the dense forest, I stopped to enjoy for a moment the dappled sunlight. The moment became ten minutes, then an hour, then more as I simply sat motionless and watched the life of the forest around me.
Tiny iridescent flies fanned their wings on the leaves. Lizards curiously scurried between my feet and up nearby twigs, craning their necks curiously to have a look at me. As I watched a butterfly flit between the flowers, a beautiful brassy-gold hummingbird buzzed past my ear to drink nectar from a crimson chalice an arm's length away. Somewhere nearby, a troupe of monkeys crashed noisily through the canopy. As I looked up toward them, I noticed as if for the first time the rainbow palate of birds sitting in the trees all around me.
I thought for a moment of the eco-tourists below me on the trail, who had hired human guides to lead them down the busy trail and peer through telescopes at tiny specks hiding in the canopy, and was grateful for the privilege of having Gaia as my guide and teacher in serenity.
Perhaps this clearing and forest collects well the lessons I have learned here: the gift of appreciation of nature, of joy in being connected, of peace and patience and serenity. May these lessons be with me always.