Portrait of Renewal

My mornings begin with the sound of parrots.  I shake off the dust of dreams, stumble onto the veranda, play my Kabir shabads, and focus on the rain forest as I move and breathe on my yoga mat.  My parents cook up breakfast inside: Punjabi prontas, omelettes, orange juice and freshly cut pineapple.  These are the holidays in my family’s new home in Dominicalito, Costa Rica.

I write the rest of the morning, or fail to write.  The important thing is the sitting still.  Sometimes my dad will call out, and we will all run outside and spot a family of capuchin monkeys passing overhead.  Or a sloth in the tree, like a huge muppet caught in the branches.  Or big blue morpho butterflies fluttering over the brush.  Or small mysterious mammals whose names I don’t know. We use binoculars or climb onto the hammock to watch quietly.  Howlers in the distance.  We are guests in the rain forest.

In the afternoons, we go wedding location scouting, searching for a sacred place for ceremony and celebration with a view of the Pacific.  I exhaust myself so instead we go hunting for casados (the typical dish of rice, beans, salad, and plantains) at local sodas, always with batidos con leche.

When my friends visit, we take them everywhere — swinging over the canopy, hiking up to waterfalls, kayaking down rivers, and wading into our secret sea caves.  My father builds us a little home on the beach, collects wood for a bonfire, and slices open coconuts in the grove with his machete.  We eat the meat and leap back into warm frothy waves to catch the last moments of dusk.

Mist falls over the green hilltops behind us; the horizon stretches before us.  We watch the sunset, a great big red bindi swallowed by the sea, and I try to awaken a little bit more, wake up to my life. At times like this, my mother will take my hand and wonder about Mummy Ji. Did she know she was dying?  Did she hear us?  And I wonder how will I do it with my own mother. It becomes important to love the ones we love — to take the time to notice how the emotion of love feels.  Sometimes like moonlight on cloud cover.

Back at home, I hook up my iphone to speakers and we dance to Nora or MGMT in our little living room.  We fall onto the couch and taste dark chocolate, fingers sticky because it melts fast at the equator, even at night.  There are a thousand stars in the sky, but we don’t go out because there might be snakes, or it’s raining sheets of rain, so instead I curl up beside my fiance and we imagine our days as whole lifetimes.

Here in Domincalito, I can retreat from the rest of the world a little bit longer.  Here I can feel the earth turn.  It is not yet the new year.  Exams have not yet begun.  There are no shootings in Arizona yet. Soon, I will come down from the forested hilltop and return to my work, but for now, I spend my time lost in greenery. This is my portrait of renewal.  And I can go back into it anytime.

What’s yours?