Yesterday my former husband and his new partner arrived in Costa Rica.
I visited Costa Rica when I was in college. A study abroad program promising easy credits for my Spanish major was the rational reason for going on the trip. The real reason- I wanted freedom.
I wanted to get out of the United States. I wanted to experience a new culture, new food, new people. In short, I wanted to be happy.
And I got it. I loved the small Central American country where the people were friendly and the beaches were beautiful. I felt like a completely different person- one that was not bound to the rules of who she was supposed to be or one that had to live up to other people’s expectations.
I traveled to active volcanoes that rumbled and grumbled, tropical beaches so pristine I felt like I was the first one to step onto them, and rainforests so abundant and lush I could not believe they actually existed. I danced my heart out under the stars on a moonlit beach. I met new people and learned how they lived and what motivated them. I was in complete awe. I loved every second of it.
It was very hard to come back home and go back to my normal life. But I did. I went back for my final year of college and “the real world.” But now I had a dream that I kept tucked away in the back of my mind and heart.
My dream was to return. I wanted to go back to Costa Rica.
I wanted to feel free again.
So when I heard that my former husband and his partner were traveling there, it was difficult for me. It felt like they were living my dream, the one I so badly wanted.
“It’s not fair,” I thought. “Why are they getting to do this and not me? This was the thing I most wanted in the world. Why don’t I get to live my dream?”
* * *
Today I’m thankful I’m not taking that trip. I’m incredibly grateful that I am not in the country I so badly wanted to return to. I’m actually relieved I didn’t get what I thought I wanted.
Because what I truly want is freedom. Real freedom. The kind that lasts. And it’s not found in anything outside of me.
If I had gone to Costa Rica or done any other traveling, I would have believed that was freedom. I would have felt free and happy, for a time. I would have thought that in order to be happy, I needed to be in a new place every so often. I would have been restless.
Perhaps I would have even translated this into relationships. When I eventually would have become disillusioned by travel, I would have thought that maybe the freedom I was seeking could be found in a new partner. Maybe I would have thought that I wasn’t happy because of the person I was with.
As much as I wanted it to be, freedom is not found in a foreign country, a relationship, or any of the ideal conditions of our external lives that we believe them to be. The real freedom is within. And sometimes in order to see that, you have to not get what you want. You have to let go of your dreams.
My soul came into this life for freedom and realization. It would compromise at nothing less than total and complete freedom. This was much to the chagrin of my human personality. “You mean I have to let go of everything? Everything?!”
Yes, it feels like that. It feels like you are letting go of everything you cherished and held dear. Everything that made life worth living. It feels like the ultimate sacrifice.
Until you let go of those things and realize you never sacrificed anything at all. You gained the whole world, and more.
If you are living your dreams, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s wonderful. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be experiencing exactly what you are supposed to be experiencing. There are realizations to be had in all kinds of places and experiences.
But if you’re like me and you’re not living your dreams, you’re not doing something wrong. You also are experiencing exactly what you’re supposed to be exactly where you’re supposed to be. There are no mistakes.
You are where you need to be to realize what you need to realize.
Now I can see that when I eventually do return to Costa Rica, it will not be from a place of need. I won’t be looking to my environment to make me feel free. The freedom and peace I will be experiencing will be completely internal.
I’m experiencing new levels of freedom while living in Flagstaff, Arizona and working at a job – another realization I needed to have. Freedom can be found wherever you are, doing whatever you’re doing.
I felt trapped while working. I also felt trapped while not working. It’s all the same. Freedom is not found in your external reality. You can work or not work. You can travel or not travel. You can be single or married. I’m showing myself I can be free at all times. Nothing external can prevent me from realizing the God within. Nothing.
Sometimes the greatest gift you can give yourself is not getting what you think you want. Because then you can receive the greatest gift of all- real freedom.