It is important to remember to breathe.
I am thirty nine thousand feet in the air and I keep forgetting to breathe.
I am not scared of flying or of heights, but every glance at the half-open window across the aisle from me reveals nothing but mist. It seems Costa Rica is hiding from me. The clouds and the mist and the rain obscure my view of the landscape and I stare into a void of complete unknown. The elusiveness of this new landscape strikes me over and over and over and again I cannot find my breath. The mist seems to rise from in between the valleys as if born from the mountains themselves. It is beautiful, but I am berated by the endless turns and jostles of our rickety bus. Even a glance out the window and into the landscape makes my stomach twist. These near death experiences suddenly have me angrily questioning why I decided to spend three weeks in a rainforest on a study abroad trip.
But it is important to feel, even when my feelings shock me, and even when I don’t know exactly what I am feeling. Because it is okay to simultaneously be enthralled and terrified at the coming adventure, and it’s okay to rest in the tension between the comfortable and the unknown.
And as the weeks go by and as exhaustion starts to make itself comfortable in every part of my body, it is important to remember to rest, but not necessary to get enough sleep every night.
Because an at-rest person isn’t necessarily well-rested.
Rest can look like stopping in stillness and opening my arms and my heart to the overwhelming wind that courses through this valley.
It can look like listening to people speak a language I do not understand, comforted by the knowledge that there is a world, a language and an understanding outside of myself, that there is always more to discover.
Rest can look like climbing onto the roof of a hotel at five a.m. to watch the sun come up and see an intimidating city come alive.
It can look like walking straight into a waterfall, letting the water pour over and pound against my receptive face, knowing full well that I will have to hike back in wet clothes, but doing it anyway and with inexplicable joy.
It can come in intentional conversation, in slowly letting the masks come off, in truly seeing others and letting myself be truly seen.
Rest can come in patiently waiting on the afternoon rains to revitalize the jungle, in that thrill of hope when I hear the rolling thunder. Because when I hear that subtle roar, I turn my face to the sky. The bride of my nose catches a raindrop or two and I begin to smile.
Then, I start to spin.
I spin against the wind and the rain. I spin with my arms outstretched. I spin until I have forgotten the uneasiness and the terror, until the tension between what I expect and what I feel no longer matters. I spin to position myself in a place of freedom, fighting back against the weather and the unknown and the uncomfortable by responding in joy.
Because when the storm does come, it is important to let it.
And when the storm does come, I will always insist on dancing.
– image by: Unsplash