In my twenties, I was sold on a version of happiness that led me to the shallowest end of the pool. I wanted not only a huge house but a spare one in a mountain resort. Happiness surely came with celebrations centered around gin served in clear crystal glasses. Sleeping around was common and my needs were a matter of paramount importance. I rarely enjoyed the mountaintop. It served as a vista to pursue larger mountains on the horizon.
I met Cy Rinkel in Nosara three years ago. She is a cool cat and our friendship continues to this day. Last week, she invited me to her rented beach house for dinner. Rick and Susan joined us and arrived with chips and homemade hummus. We sat around the pool with our feet dangling in the water. The pool was in need of service as several Halloween crab carcasses were floating on the surface. As we began sharing stories, one-by one, five iguanas settled into some territories on the concrete surrounding the sullied pool water. I basked in the awe of these beautiful moments.
Two days later, I set out for a long walk along the jungle paths that connect this village to the sea. The roar of the ocean can be heard through the entire area. This region has been discovered and the beautiful sound of waves pounding the sand has been tainted with the meep-meep from excavation machines busily moving dirt. Several local mansions could easily take the front cover of Architectural Digest. Over three years, I have spent three months in this lovely town. I have yet to see humans other than maintenance workers or construction crews on the grounds of these empty trophy homes. What used to be a desire now appears as gargantuan baggage. I quickly found a path to take me to the beach where the waves mute the sounds of development.
The scallop shell is the most iconic symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Three years ago, a fellow pilgrim hid her shell in a tree near Playa Guiones. As a reference point, numbers are painted on some trees along the shore. This three mile stretch has ninety marked trees. Two years ago, I found tree number 86 and recovered my priceless gift. Last week, I went to reunite with my favorite tree. Upon arrival, I discovered that 86 has been eaten by the sea. A great reminder of the impermanence of everything. I snapped a photo of the space and sent it to the woman that left me the gift. We electronically shared another meaningful moment.
I am finding that happiness is easily accessed because it is omnipresent in the current moment. I am lucky to know that it never exists on the horizon.