I’m not ready for paradise…REALLY???

a paradise

by Kenneth Justice

~ “Kenneth, I could totally see you living down here the rest of your life” said my friend

I’ve been staying along the Caribbean in Costa Rica for the past week when a couple days ago I received an email from one of my best (coffee) house friends from back home in the Midwest, “Kenneth” the email said, “I’ve been thinking about you being down there in Costa Rica and I couldn’t take it anymore so I’ve bought a ticket and I will be there Friday!”

One of the nice perks of meeting so many people at coffee houses is that quite a few of these people end up becoming my really good friends. 20 years my senior, this particular friend is someone I’ve known for nearly a decade now and we met each other at a coffee house.

So once he arrived to Costa Rica this past weekend I took him to one of my favorite little restaurant/bar/grill that sits right on the beach looking out over the Caribbean Sea……its a pretty breathtaking place where you don’t even have to say much; you can just sit back and enjoy the view.

Kenneth, if I had come here when I was younger I don’t think I would have ever gone back to the States” he said, “I could totally see myself getting lost in paradise and living on the beach life for all eternity

I’ve been in Costa Rica for nine days now and my trip is coming to a close…..I’m filled with a lot of thoughts.

—-) I’ve met more than 50 different people at various café’s and bars and have only begun to sift through the material in order to figure out what to write about

—-) I’ve enjoyed some of the most breathtaking views and sights I’ve ever seen before

—-) The people of Costa Rica have been so warm and friendly; they’ve helped me when I got lost, they helped me when I tore part of the bumper of my rental car off (that’s another story for another day)

However…..despite the warm weather, the wonderful people, and the beautiful sights…….I don’t think I’m ready for paradise yet.

Do I sound crazy? Do I sound nuts? Why wouldn’t I want to drop everything back in the States and simply disappear to a place like Costa Rica? Perhaps as the writer said so long ago, “There is a season for everything” and its simply not yet my season to disappear to paradise.

The other day as I was sitting on the beach looking at everyone laying out in the sun and all the children playing out in the water I suddenly had a memory pop into my head of when I used to live in Chicago. I remembered this one night that my parents let me stay up late and we walked through the city neighborhood with flashlights…….it was a good memory.

You might not know this but even in the depths of urban Chicago there are firefly’s….and I recalled this one night I tried to catch firefly’s with a neighbor friend of mine…….it was a good night……and it was a good memory.

People may think I’m crazy but I love the Midwest. I love Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, St Louis……..it is in my blood. I don’t plan on living every day of the rest of my life in the Midwest…….but I feel that my time there still has meaning. I feel that I still have much to accomplish back in the United States…..I’m not quite ready for paradise. paradise

Isn’t that how life is; we have dreams……but sometimes we may simply not be ready for those dreams to come true…..we still have a few more things we need to accomplish before we can step forward into that next phase of our life.

As a Christian, the metaphor of paradise is usually connected to the afterlife, to heaven. The life here on this earth is considered a precursor to the life to come….the paradise that awaits us. Many other religions have similar views (Islam, Buddhism, etc.)…….and its a good metaphor; sometimes we have to work through things before we are truly ready for paradise.

My time in Costa Rica this year has been really good……I’ve met a few people who’s stories will forever make a mark on my life. The stunning sunsets and sunrises that I’ve seen every morning have at times brought me close to tears…..I’ve sat there alongside the beach wondering why a punk like myself has been given such a gift of seeing such a wondrous sight.

This is the first year of my life in a long time where I don’t have a clearly defined goal. For many years, it was college, counseling, volunteer work, and other things which became my ‘mission’ so to speak. This year, all I’ve decided to do is visit coffee houses in the hope of connecting with readers, bloggers, and others who cross my path…….it sounds like such a strange year to me because I’m not sure what will happen once its all done……its also strange because I’m sacrificing quite a bit of my money to go to so many different places (and Its not like I have a ton of money to spend)…….and as someone who’s father was as Jewish as they come; to do something that doesn’t have any apparent monetary gain is quite a nutty thing to do.

Watching the sun set

Watching the sun set

My father was a successful businessman….one of the most successful men I’ve ever known……and if he was alive right now I can picture the quizzical look on his face and the question he would surely ask, “Kenneth, what’s the deal….you just want to bum around at coffee shops your whole life?”

It makes me smile to think of my father because he and I were so different……he was all about business…..and I am all about…..well…..I’m not sure what I’m all about yet. Perhaps that is why I’m not yet ready for paradise; I’m still trying to figure things out.

I will be in Atlanta, Georgia on the first weekend of March……for those who live there it would be really cool if we could grab a coffee together……for now, I think I will finish the coffee I have in my hand at the moment





Categories: Drinking in the Culture

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50 replies

  1. Just love this one. And cannot say why (at least in less than gobbledegook essays)! Lovely words.

  2. Wise words Kenneth, wise words. It’s good to ponder if one could really enjoy paradise if they left unfinished business elsewhere. It’s good to remember that our dreams may change as we grow but until our death there is no time limit for achieving them. Thank you.

  3. “My time there still has meaning.” Really stuck on this phrase…and I think I’ll reflect on it while I finish my cup of coffee.

  4. great blog..and really good thoughts. Isn’t it funny how goals can sometimes take away the satisfaction of living in the present?

    • “isn’t it funny how goals can sometimes take away the satisfaction of living in the present”

      absolutely! Sometimes it can distract me from simply living each day to the fullest

  5. Paradise is great mainly in part because of its rarity. Also, I’ll send you an email before the day is out about your time in Atlanta.

    • Dewey, thank you!!! I’d love to meet up with you if you have the time!! I’m planning on arriving Friday night (feb 28th) and I haven’t made up my mind yet if I’m gonna stay through sunday or if I’m gonna leave Saturday night and spend sunday in Nashville yet…….

  6. Great post! Perhaps that’s why I’m still in limbo also. Hmm.

  7. If it wasn’t for the people in my life, I probably wouldn’t be living where I am living. I mean that to be positive. I am where I am because my family is close, my boyfriend is close and my friends are close. If I could convince them all to pack up and movie to London, I’d be there. Those people are more important than the place I live right now.

    Define paradise, anyway. Whose to say that Paradise has to be a place. Why can’t it be a person, or an occupation? I bet the true definition of paradise is different for everyone.

    • TK,

      I TOTALLY know what you mean…..if I could move everybody I love to somewhere else….I’d probably do it as well.

      and youre right; paradise is something we each can define differently….

  8. Wonderful !
    You are too young for Paradise. Lol
    “Pura Vida” can be found all over the world. I don’t think that everyone in Costa Rica, (wonderland, blessed with God’s nature) don’t have problems, issues, stressful days.
    Maybe, after your adventure you will be reworded with a Surprise 😃
    Welcome home!

  9. So you’ve got roots! That’s a good thing.

  10. Not everything gained can be measured with a price tag
    Sure could see me live in the middle of know where or paradise as long as there is a town in like biking distance 😀
    Ha ha stunning pictures and a wonderful week of stories

    • “sure could see me live in the middle of nowhere or paradise as long as there is a town in biking distance”

      I’m totally with ya on that…..maybe some day I will do it 🙂

  11. Kenneth,

    You are hardly bumming around coffee shops. You are taking in the world and writing about it. That is leading to a career, and a passionate one at that. Thank you for your inspiration.


  12. My mom always said we make our own heaven and earth here on earth. Our minds are a powerful thing. Paradise can just be a state of mind….take it with you everywhere. (That said, the paradise in my head would be a lot nicer if I were sitting on a beach.) 😀 😀 Good luck and can’t wait for the posts from Atlanta!

  13. I read most every one of your blogs, Kenneth. I always enjoy them immensely. This sounds like a year of not only discovering foreign shores and different places and people, but also a year of taking time to explore your own self–for as you stated you have no real goals this year. However, I think your goal this year far exceeds so many other things you might have chosen. Travel, new cultures and people and cities always has a way of changing a person in some positive ways. We certainly get to know ourselves better. Maybe this is your year for dreaming while you get to visit paradise here and there, and one day in the future you will wake up and just know you are ready.

  14. Love this! It’s an amazing thing your doing, to have a year off just exploring and reflecting on life. The best way to increase your knowledge and wisdom is through personal experiences. Isn’t this what we should all be working towards, spending our money on life. Having these types of experiences and renewing our souls every once in a while. Life is filled with distractions and sometimes we need to experience things out of our comfort zones in order to strengthen our hearts and minds. I hope this year is enlightening and inspiring for you and whatever happens, no regrets.

    • “Life is filled with distractions and sometimes we need to experience things out of our comfort zones in order to strengthen our hearts and minds”

      right on! That was the one nice thing about my trip to costa rica; it was for the most part a distraction free trip 🙂

  15. One of the things about your journey is that you will be in many different places, some may not be anything close to paradise, so having a little paradise along the way is not so bad.

    As your doing what your doing, keep your purpose in mind. I think it was along the line of people wanting to connect and using coffee houses around the world to give people an opportunity to connect. Much like your blog, this journey will evolve and define itself along the way. Enjoy it in the moment and for the moment.

    Never let the journey become your slave…when it becomes a burden or something you’re just doing to fulfill a commitment to your readers or when it becomes harmful to your livelihood…discontinue the journey. Life is full of opportunity and it’s okay to change your mind if you find the path you are walking is no longer the path you want to be on.

    Are you planning to get any closer to Florida…Atlanta is about 8 hours away, I’d rather meet up a little closer if possible?

  16. Stunning sunsets…lol. I think you had a stunning view of someone watching the sun set. 😉 Glad you enjoyed your time away.

    I keep saying that I’m moving over seas and my family still says they’ll blame me for a murder before that happens. So I guess they’d rather I was in jail and around to visit instead. Geez. Some day…

  17. But Kenneth, that’s the whole point of your journey (and your personal life story).

    You DO have a goal. You have a lifelong goal of connecting with many people across the world. You are there to listen, to talk, to observe…………and hopefully to gain wisdom along the way.

    The whole point of living is to experience and learn.

    I believe I may have said this before……. Life is not a rehearsal.

    Life is the main performance.

    Each moment of that ‘performance’ is profound. Each moment is important. Whether you know it or not, later on down the road you’ll look back on this year as being one of the most memorable of your life. It will enrich and empower you to make wiser choices and develop compassion. It will teach you more about human nature that if you were sitting at home, or behind a desk seeing similar people with similar life stories.

    Wherever you are in any given moment is where you’re meant to be.

  18. We need our taste of Paradise in small doses or we get blasé about it. A little dark makes the light brighter, a little pain means we appreciate having none. So glad you have enjoyed this taaste and will keep good memories.

  19. I always used be looking for the next BIG thing in my life and then started to learn that the present is all we really have. Tomorrow’s already gone, yesterday may never be (who knows). I’m still learning that I should grow where I’m planted right now.
    I like what Larry Norman said way back when (in the 60s or 70s I think) – “This earth is not my home”. Being that there are such beautiful places here that can bring us to tears, I would imagine that what is waiting for us once our ‘tent’ is gone and done with, is an immeasurable amount greater and more beautiful. I imagine that it would be true paradise.
    Blessings =)

  20. Well written…nicely stated!

  21. As William DeVaughn said, “Just be thankful for what you’ve got.”

  22. Maybe you think you’re not ready for paradise yet because somewhere deep inside…..you know you’re already there?

  23. You had me at Costa Rica…my future home!

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