It is mid-day on a Wednesday, and I am gazing through a window of Delta 1396 as it descends into the sprawl that goes on forever, the City of Angels.
I departed San Jose, Costa Rica, early this morning where I have been working for the last six months. I can feel my body and mind begin to switch gears, a necessary requirement for the immersion into the “fast lane” life of Los Angeles. I am eager to catch up with some friends, see a good show, and grab a coffee to go. LA is one of the most vibrant cities on earth, where everything and anything is at your fingertips 24/7.
As the captain comes over the intercom, alerting passengers that in a few minutes we will be touching down at LAX, I notice that everyone around me begins to scramble. The vibe shifts and I can feel the angst and the urgency to plug in, sign in, and connect. Within seconds of landing there is a cacophony of bells and whistles as everyone’s notifications come pouring in. Welcome back to the plugged-in world. This is not unfamiliar territory to me, but it takes a moment to adjust. This electronic life is a complete 180 from the one I’ve been living, in one of the world’s five Blue Zones, where people move slowly, talk slowly in “real time,” and no one cares about which device does what.
I travel a lot. I journey back and forth between one of the fastest paced cities in the US and a very remote area of Costa Rica. My home in Los Angeles is in West Hollywood, a colorful area that revolves around the entertainment world, full of driven and creative individuals chasing the “next big thing.” My other home, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, is an off-the-beaten-path beach town on the Pacific Coast, where life is languid and peaceful, and happiness is measured in siestas, surf sessions, and sunsets. LA and Costa Rica are two different planets. People often ask me, “How do you make the adjustment from one world to the next?” It really comes down to being aware of the place I currently find myself, and what can be expected, learned, and enjoyed in that place. I always describe how I find inspiration in both places, and that it is important not to seek the impossible in either place. Hence, I don’t expect to be one of just a few surfers in the line-up in Malibu.
Los Angeles is a constant reminder that the world is vast and diverse, opportunities are endless, and its energy pushes me to dream big. Costa Rica teaches me that happiness can be found in the simplest of things.
I arrived in my one-dirt-road village ten years ago, all alone with a backpack, and instantly felt a calm inner joy at the thought of making a life on a rustic stretch of beach in the middle of nowhere. I envisioned my true self in Costa Rica, and right away I fell in love with all of it. The days and the years in Central America have drifted by effortlessly. I have met adventurers from all over the globe, amazing people who are far more traveled than I, many burned out by the cruel and rigorous irony of modern life. And yet, once they set foot on our beautiful Playa Santa Teresa no one seems to be stressed about anything. The local motto is “Pura Vida,” which means pure life. I felt it the second I arrived, and I still feel it today.
It is a luxury to live an un-plugged life in Costa Rica where people are truly present and life’s valuable moments are never defined by the demand for instant digital contact. Dinner spent with friends, without the clutter of smart phones all over the table, is a rare thing in today’s world. If people need to find me, they know to look for me at my house or my office. If I am not there I am probably surfing. I love being able to sit on the beach and take in the beauty of a perfect sunset with my own eyes, while others try to capture the magic for their next Instagram post. I won’t lie, I too crave the immediate gratification of social media and the quick access to close friends and family. The digital environment has become an integral part of the ever-expanding fabric of who we are. But like everything in life, it’s all about a healthy balance. It’s a lesson I’ve learned well traveling the lonely back roads of Santa Teresa.
As I exit LAX, I hop on my iPhone and open my Uber app. I type in my destination for West Hollywood, jump in the waiting car, and hit the fast lane of the 405. I instantly find myself checking emails that poured in during the flight, texting friends and family to make plans, watching mindless celebrity news on the back-seat screen in the car, all while having an in depth conversation with my driver about how he landed in this city of dreams. I have been in this world for just a few minutes and it feels as if I’m a contestant on a multi-tasking game show. I take a deep breath and remind myself of where I am. I think about balance. I think about sand, and ocean, and the sound of Howler monkeys. And I think about my life in two worlds. I am thrilled to hit the ground running, ready to soak up all LA has to offer. But Costa Rica will remain a virtual reality in my mind, and I know its “Pura Vida” will be waiting for me when its time to journey south once again.
Cody Jo. Out.