My friend Molly Barker says when she feels both fear and joy in the same moment, she knows she’s on to something big. I know exactly what she means.
On the day I left for Costa Rica, I couldn’t stop tearing up in the USAirways Lounge. It had started at home, when I said goodbye to my perennially entertaining cats, and it had just kept on coming. I pretended to have a cold when my fellow travelers in the lounge began to stare.
Uprooting my life to spend 6 months in Costa Rica sounded so inspiring during the months of planning. Just the thought of it made me relaxed and filled of joy. Until about a week out, when my long-dreamt-of sabbatical suddenly filled me with fear. As moving day approached and I ticked off each item on my to-do list, I developed a low-grade dread, with “What have I done?” constantly running through my mind.
I have a great life. Some might even call it cushy. Perched in a cool uptown condo, with plenty of yoga and sushi within reach, I have amazing friends who inspire and challenge me every day. I have a beautiful car, reliable electricity, hot and cold running water and, until recently, a steady pay check.
And Wi-Fi? Who needs that when you have 4G?
Where I am going, the roads are unpaved and pot-holed, the earthquakes humbling and the electricity spotty. I’ll be twenty minutes from a Supermarket and un-motorized for the first time since 10th Grade. I’ll have to watch for iguanas on my front porch and scorpions in my shoes. I will keep my flashlight handy for outages and walks down the un-lit road after sunset. The howler monkeys in the trees outside my bedroom window will be my alarm clock. I’ll spend most days in 90-degree heat with little air conditioning, searching for Wi-Fi to check my ever-dwindling bank account.
Yet, as frightening as it is, something is driving me to leave my comfortable, predictable existence and see if there is something I haven’t seen before. An unexpected joy, perhaps, that can be hard to find in a world full of dependable routine. It’s time to shake things up, redefine myself and see the stars at night.
So, I wiped off the tears, got on the plane and wrote “writer” under “profession” on the immigration form. A few days later, when my landlord handed me the keys to my casita in Nosara, I found myself weeping with joy.