Pura Vida. Two words that so fittingly capture the essence and beauty of Costa Rica. A simple slogan that encapsulates its way of living, one that favours connection, nature, joy, simplicity, peace, while declaring a relaxed attitude towards everything else. Sounds pretty magical, right? I was determined to live it. Be it. 

Well, I’ve come to realize – beautiful in concept, not so easy to adopt. Especially for a control freak like me. 

Growing up in a fast-paced world, I subscribed to values like productivity, convenience and certainty. I excelled at things like multitasking, organizing, planning, thus controlling my world to create order and minimize risk. But none of these skills (nor stiff jargons) would prove useful in my pursuit of la Pura Vida. In fact, they hindered it.

So, I made some adjustments: 

 Faster does not equal better

Getting anything done on time here is a crapshoot, and some things downright do not make sense (I’m looking at you, bus system). I’ve come to grasp that ‘later’ could mean ‘tomorrow’, ‘two days’ actually means ‘one week’ and scheduled timelines are mere suggestions. To salvage my sanity, a reset of my expectations was a must. I gradually relinquished my obsession and insistence on saving time, being on time, being faster, doing more. Eventually, I slowed down and adjusted to the flow and rhythm of the chaotic order here. Peace ensued, and now, I cannot remember why I was rushing at all. 

 The unknown can be fun 

Throughout the many curveballs and inconveniences that Costa Rican life has presented, I’m still alive, healthy and well-fed. In fact, life is pretty great. My westernized mind had programmed me to fear the unknown. But the fears of being stranded or swallowed by the jungle, have mostly been thwarted by fortuitous encounters, fun adventures and stories of a lifetime. As I build confidence in myself and the Universe with the reminder that somehow, some way, things have always worked out, I trust that my unknowingness will likely not end in calamity. Predictability is safe but living curiously alongside the unpredictability of life makes it more meaningful and fun. 

Listen to the ocean

Upon relieving my mind of its time management and risk averting duties, something else happened. My senses heightened and I came to savour more fully the abundant beauty around me, whether it be the sound of the waves or the graze of the breeze. Enjoying the moment is an important tenant of Pura Vida after all. The more I did, and through my heightened sensitivity, Nature’s teachings became so clear. I would feel energized by this land and connected to the wisdom it beholds, as if I have tapped into a piece of insider knowledge. Score. 

Alas, I still have much to learn along my pursuit of la Pura Vida. Fortunately, Costa Rica with its plenitude of surprises, beauty and magic, is a perfect playground for eroding my dysfunctional controlling ways and replacing them with the purity of Life.