Most of my life (and, I assume, others’) has consisted of long periods of regularity. Doing things like school or work at the same time every day for weeks with little tangible change. During these stretches, time moves fast, but life seems to move slow. People only change if the things around them are in flux, otherwise there is no need. That isn’t to say routine is bad, it just gets old sometimes.
It was only a few days ago, but I am sure that my first night in Costa Rica is something that will stick with me. I will remember sitting on a bus full of complete strangers, watching an unfamiliar land go by, and feeling completely at home. I will remember breathing in the hot, humid air as we walked through a dark jungle. I will remember walking into the bathroom and a gecko falling from the ceiling. Most of all I will remember the anticipation, lying in bed between restlessness and exhaustion failing to guess what the next few days and weeks would be like. I predicted fun, discovery, difficulties, learning, moments of joy, moments of sadness, and everything in between. So far, I have been right.
Luckily, between periods of stagnancy, there exist brief liminal spaces, which are always somehow more memorable. First days of school, moving out for the first time, a new job. They bring uncertainty, which is the foundation of personal growth.
Everyday has felt special and unique since I have arrived. Different meals every day, learning about my piers, studying Costa Rica’s conservational history, but mostly just experiencing the nature. Every step into the wilderness is full of discovery and joy. Seeing unfamiliar species of bird and insect and learning about them from extremely knowledgeable guides. It is amazing how quickly I feel like I made a connection to this place. Hearing the howler monkeys in the trees, seeing ants walk along side the paths. All the sounds and sights that started as unfamiliar are slowly becoming less so.
Personal growth, of course, being the ultimate human goal. Many define their goals externally, but really we all just want to be a certain type of person: maybe a smart person, a rich person, a good person.
The focus of this trip is sustainability and climate change. We have been learning about the science and politics behind the current state of climate change and what the future may hold. We have had a few lectures and readings but much of the education has been less formal. I’ve learned a lot from members of the community here at La Selva and the other places we have visited. So far we have visited an organic pineapple grower, and small scale banana and plantain farm. These visits have been a lot of fun and extremely informative (as well as delicious). Going from listening to lectures to walking through a farm is a remarkable and unique experience. Meeting people on the front lines of protecting natural resources while simultaneously providing for their communities was encouraging to me about the future of the world. However, I know that the other side exists as well. The people working in the Dole farm just across the road are people too, with their own beliefs and goals. I would love to learn about them and what they would think about everything we have learned.
The issue with creating a perfect world, is that each person has their own definition of good. What one person sees as feeding their family, a different person sees as destroying the earth and a heroic act to one, is criminal to another. Is helping the earth at the expense of the impoverished worth it? Are there ways to help everyone and the earth? If so, what is holding us back? I don’t think anybody knows the answers to these questions and I have no idea how someone would go about finding them.
I can’t help but think of what my own role is in and how I can align my actions with my beliefs regarding climate change. It is a problem of complexity, there is no right and wrong when things are on a global scale. Of course, my personal stance has changed over many years but this trip is giving me a change to reflect on that stance and revise it given knew information. My thought process is that for any solution I endorse, I must be willing to take on the negative consequences. Whether that is sacrificing my ambition to work on a farm or be one of the casualties in creating a better world. Is this a cause I would die for? If not, I can’t responsibly support a solution that would cause others to face these consequences.
So far this trip has satisfied my every expectation and the trip has barely begun. In the next weeks I am excited to learn even more about Costa Rica, the world, and the people around me. I don’t know if the answers to my question even exist, but if they do this experience will definitely guide me towards them.
Re-Post from Edwin Blog: See the Original at: https://blogs.iu.edu/ecohealth/