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.
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.
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