“It has to start someplace, it has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?”
The block has lifted. I’m sat at the base of the Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica, watching yet another apocalyptic storm, but this one makes me smile. I’m smiling as the deluge hits, knocking out the electricity in the little village of El Castillo. Why am I smiling? Because I have not really smiled for the past 6 weeks. I’ve been sat in a fog of misery, angst and depression, wearing the claustrophobic girdle of writers block. In the last 42 days I’ve experienced a smorgasbord of emotions, some delightful, some horrendous. This should (if the writers handbook is to be believed) have inspired me to construct my greatest pieces to date… Yet instead it left me with a sickening feeling of indecisiveness, doubt and emptiness. And then it thankfully changed.
It all begins yesterday (16/10/13), at 6:05 on a Wednesday morning, with a slight hangover, a rereading of the previous nights text messages and a mixture or regret, frustration and determination. Or to be more accurate, that is where the rebirth began. To understand where it really began let’s embrace that horrendous writing technique and take a trip down memory lane…
… Flash back 6 weeks… >
Relationships come and go. Some are meant to be, others not. When mine ended I couldn’t grasp this simple premise. I managed to beat myself up for 6 solid weeks with the indescribable minutiae of why? What if? How? More why? My trip until this point had been “a gravy train with biscuit wheels”… I was indestructible, yet a simple ‘no’ smashed me for the proverbial home-run.
I abandoned all my previous life lessons and started wallowing in the ease and comfort of negativity.
“I’m all alone in a foreign country, nobody gets me… I can’t wait to leave and go back somewhere normal.”
Couple this with being without my bank card for 5 weeks and surviving on rice, tomato and onion, my sacroiliac joint giving me constant jip, and missing an amazing friends birthday/leaving party in a neighbouring country…… I was officially depressed. It’s a term that’s banded around far too frequently, yet I awoke up checking my phone for non-existent messages, becoming distraught when they hadn’t arrived, fumbling through my daily duties and then dreaming of getting drunk just to get each day over with.
I’m not ashamed to admit that this wasted existence robbed me of 6 weeks of my life, in a country where I’m surrounded by the most stunning countryside imaginable…… I didn’t see it. It wasn’t important.
All the while I’m in email and Whatsapp (I’m still waiting for my advertising fee) contact with friends and family… And they were/are a tour de force of strength and reassurance, yet when you wake up in your little village, thousands of miles from them each day it’s hard to embrace their true strength.
So I wallow, I moan, and I send rambling messages to friends. This process repeats ad nauseam….. Until Wednesday 16th October 2013.
So I wake up as usual, check again for my non-existent make up message, feel dejected when it’s inevitably not there (durrrrrrr), and then scan through other sent messages. I then feel a dawning that for the past few weeks I’ve bored my friends senseless with the same incessant plea for pity. They’ve offered all kinds of advice and strategies and I’ve dutifully nodded, yet continued with my rants.
This morning was different. This morning something finally clicked. For the first time I weeks I felt not sorry for myself, but sorry for them for enduring my whining. I don’t know why… I hadn’t done anything different, and I’d listened to the same Joe Purdy album (Only Four Seasons – a stunningly depressing album packed with amazing tunes….. Love you Joe!!!), yet this morning was most definitely different.
Enthused by this change in hormones I snapped myself into gear and decided then and there to become more positive. I downloaded a few meditation apps and determined to listen to them after I finished my previously neglected workout strategy after work.
In work I sent out a few Whatsapp (it’s a fantastic app for keeping in touch, wherever you are in the world, and the messages are free too ) messages advertising my newfound state.
Paul (my Venezuelan brother) advised that I go for a run, due to the therapeutic benefits. Not fully free from the grips of my negativity I dismissed the idea – the roads are too bad, it goes dark too early etc, yet when I returned home from work his words resonated. It wasn’t too dark, the roads were no worse than usual……… So with a gargantuan effort I laced my boots and headed for a run around lake Arenal.
Paul… you are insane, usually a very bad influence, and we nearly always end up in some form of mischief……. but today you got it just right.
Within the first kilometer I was feeling clear headed. As I approached the lake I was feeling uplifted. As I ran aside the lake I felt happy……. A happiness I hadn’t felt for a long time.
It had rained every afternoon for the last few months, yet today it remained dry, and offered the clearest view of the volcano I’d ever seen.
So I run, I take pictures, I run back. I’m feeling happy… really happy. I send the pictures to my parents, to Paul, and, on a whim, to my ex girlfriend. Upon arriving home we start to talk and clear up any confusion there may have been. For the first time in nearly 2 months I feel genuinely happy.
Now I can sleep happy, I have a renewed friendship with an amazing friend and my fog of misery lifts.
My previous judgements of the country passes as I realize that, no, they do not think like me, and no, they do not hold my beliefs and standards…….. But wasn’t that why I left to go traveling in the first place? To discover new places? New philosophies? New cultural ideals? How ridiculous and narrow minded was I to dismiss them just because I was sulking?
Steven, thank you for that final boot up the arse I needed. Happy birthday my friend.
I can now look back with a much enlightened view and recall the many adventures that I’ve experienced in my time here (watch this space)
I am back!