Monday, May 7, 2012

Learning a New Language

Learning a new language opens an entire body of information that frequently has no direct translation into other languages. It opens a whole new world. While I didn't literally learn a new language in Belize, I found myself learning new worlds- worlds that have no direct translation in my every day existence, so communicating them here will be sketchy at best, but I'll try because they should be known. You should go see them for yourselves, really.

Since my time in Hawaii, the ocean has been a mirror metaphor of life and myself. It is where I find myself balanced, and at the same time forced to face myself- my hopes, fears, inhibitions, dreams, strengths, and weaknesses. In Hawaii I navigated myself through learning to surf the surface of the ocean; facing my fears and finding balance while being propelled forward. In Belize, I found myself 50-60 feet under the water. Completely submerged, it was a strange sensation of claustrophobia combined with an overwhelming sense of the vast openness that lay before me. On land, you can get lost in the maze of stuff. Under water, you can get lost because there's nothing for miles and miles but an expanse of deep blue. In that expanse there's a world of living things that are nothing short of amazing. A huge 100ish year old sea turtle swimming towards you just a few feet away won't fade from memory anytime soon- nor will the discovery of a shark tucked away in the rocks. Everything is alive, and surviving in an environment that would kill us without gadgets to help us breathe. And your breath becomes a focal point only in that you have to breathe through the fear of not being able to breathe- because you can (so long as your tank isn't empty). As you adjust, breathing becomes calm and rhythmic, and as bubbles rise to the surface, a glance up to follow them reveals a bright sun piercing through the depths- a reminder of the sky so far above. A glance down and the ocean's depth almost seems to be as infinite as the heavens.  Here we were suspended between the two. Absolute silence drew everyone to the very present moment, able to communicate through only a few hand gestures- here we learned reverence for our place in this world, each other, and life itself.

After 2 days living in over water cabanas at Hugh Parkey's Adventure Lodge, we were transported to Maruba Jungle Spa and Resort in Maskall.

My room at Hugh Parkey's Adventure Lodge

My room at Maruba Jungle Spa and Resort

As you can see, completely different styles- both awesome in their own ways.

Here's Maya- fierce jungle dog; protector of the grounds:

On our second day at Maruba, we went cave tubing. Here again, we found ourselves in a dark silence, but a completely different kind of silence than when in the ocean. We circled up and chanted a few long resounding OMs in the darkness before turning on our headlights and paddling our way through the caves- occasionally getting stuck on the rocks in low spots, and yelling 'butt up!' to the others coming behind us.

entering the cave

lighted opening

light at the end of the tunnel (cave)

out in the open

sky above

After tubing, we went zip lining. I thought I had a fear of heights, but apparently my time guiding myself through my fears during scuba diving prepared me for launching myself off a platform hundreds of feet off the ground flying down a 700 foot long line. Go figure.

The day after cave tubing, we went to the Mayan ruins in Lamani. A boat transported us an hour away making the occasional pit stop to let a monkey on board.

Once we arrived, we had a Belizian lunch, and headed into the jungle. About 15 minutes in there was a torrential downpour. We made it to the first site completely drenched, but no one cared. We were taken in by the incredible structure in front of us, and the fact that these were built ages before our modern technology and machinery. 

accepting that I'm soaked and look like a drowned rat

this was a rather steep set of stairs that challenged
 balance because they were wet and corroded

Jaguar Temple

After a long day of boat rides, hiking, and climbing temples, we returned to the resort to clean up and nap before dinner. 

Now, I should take this moment to tell you all a secret. During all of these amazing adventures, I was still distracted by one thing from home (and only one, mind you). Remember that last post about the interview at Eagle Rock in Estes Park, CO? I was (guiltily) regularly heading to the lounge area of the resort where there was sketchy wifi access so I could check my email. I suppose I could have waited until I got home, but either way, I wanted to know if I got the fellowship while I was away. If I was rejected (again) I was away from everything and could deal with the rejection in a place with much better distractions than Mechanicsburg, PA, or if I was accepted- what better place to celebrate than in Belize with a bunch of friends? I had checked a few nights in a row with nothing in my inbox but junk mail, but tonight... tonight was different. I waited a few moments for my phone to connect and watched my inbox clock "checking for mail..." while I ordered a hibiscus mojito. Still clocking, I took a sip of my mojito then heard a "dinngg" I look down and see an email with the subject line "Fellowship." Ok, deep breath... "this could go either way" I tell myself. "You've already got a plan if it's a no because you thought it was no months ago." I open the email and the first lines reads "I think I got an email from you saying you would be out of the country for the week so I am emailing to offer you the fellowship for the next year." 

I nearly fell off of my chair. I re-read it a few times to make sure I wasn't misreading. Once I was certain I read it right, I started shaking. Seriously? Did I just land a position that will unquestionably change my life forever? One that I can, for the first time, pour my heart and soul into and see growth and progression? The rest of the group arrived and we celebrated our being in Belize and my new path. 

My life is completely changing course because I decided staying in a job I hate for stability to cultivate a comfortably numb existence isn't good enough. I want to be proud of my life in those last moments before it ends- whenever that is. Now, for the first time in awhile, I can honestly say I'm proud of what I'm doing. I'm about to learn a new language that doesn't involve rationalization because I sold my soul to pay my rent- instead it will be a language of meaning, love, and passion.

"I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain."
-Shawshank Redemption


  1. One more soul free to reach full potential! So proud of you and by the way I think your writing is so beautiful.