WAIT! Before you exit out of this blog entry, I promise the Spanish in here is minimal and translated for my non-Spanish/Spanglish readers. Don’t let the title scare you off.
Fun fact: I spent a semester living and studying in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a small country (about the size of Lake Michigan) in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Costa Rica is known for many things, one of them being its beauty. Nearly every inch of the country is gorgeous, even the metropolitan areas. If you are not surrounded by gorgeous jungles and mountains you are surrounded by colorful buildings and extravagant street art. If the Bible wasn’t predominantly based in the Middle East I would have thought I was walking through the Garden of Eden as I traveled home every day, that’s how gorgeous and lush this country is. Costa Rica is also well-known for its lack of military forces…and by lack of I mean the country as no military. That sounds bizarre right? As an American citizen hailing from a family with so many in the armed forces I thought it was insane. However, after just a week of living there I completely understood why their country has no military. They don’t need one! They’re far too peaceful to worry about attacking or being attacked.
You will hear Costa Ricans – or Ticos, as they call themselves – use the expression, pura vida, all the time. Pura vida (pronounced poor-uh vee-duh) is Spanish for ‘pure life’. However, in Costa Rica pura vida can mean a number of things including, but not limited to: “hello”, “great”, “nice meeting you”, “thank you” and “you’re welcome”. Pura Vida is not just a pretty sounding phrase that the people like to use, but it is a philosophy that all Ticos live by. Pura Vida is all about taking pleasure in the simple things and living a peaceful and stress-free life. This would explain why Costa Rica is rated as the happiest nation on earth. Ticos don’t fret with very much in life; pura vida reminds them to be thankful for what they have and to not dwell on the negative.
Again being an American, this way of life was very different. I actually had culture shock. The first night I arrived in Costa Rica I forgot my backpack in the back of someone’s car and freaked out because I had no way of contacting them. My host mother, Emilce, looked at me with the calmest face, made a few phone calls and my backpack was returned to me in 20 mins time. I was completely bewildered and she simply shrugged and said “pura vida. Tienes hambre (Are you hungry)?” I spent days trying to figure out how this woman was so chill while I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. But the longer I stayed in that country, the more I began to understand and the more I began to understand the more free I felt. I assumed it was nothing more than me acclimating to the culture, but I realized one night it was more God working on my heart and mind. I was walking home alone one night after hanging out with some friends, praying to God about some things on my mind. Immediately God brought Luke 12:22-32 to my attention and told me “Do I not look after the ravens that neither reap nor sow? Mi hijo (my son), you are of much more value. Don’t worry about a thing; I will take care of you. Pura vida.” From that moment on, even up to today after being back in the Uptight States of America, I worry a lot less about things. I catch myself saying pura vida at the most stressful of times, because I now know that I’ll never be left nor forsaken. Therefore, I willingly lie down in pastures…no one has to make me anymore. Though I do admit to still having colossal meltdowns every time someone eats my food in the fridge, but I think that’s an acceptable exception.
I say all of this to say, stop stressing. I understand how taxing it can be going without a paycheck for so long. I understand how scary it can be stepping into the real world for the first time after finishing school. However, you’re stressing will get you nowhere. As the saying goes, “small things for a big God”. The things you are stressing about are so small in comparison to your creator, who is so big. Just do your best and let the Creator do the rest. PURA VIDA.