Sunday, August 14, 2011

What Do You Want From Life?

Well, ok - that sounds a little more "inspirational" than I expected.  But it is a fundamental question.

When we first decided to move to Costa Rica, we put together a plan for *how* to do it, but for my part, I purposely left the "what" part vague.  I knew it would take a few years to figure out life here, and I wanted to give that a chance without being sidetracked by "things I said I gotta do."

When you are first finding out how something works, even the negatives can be viewed as valuable learning experiences.  Take the feria, for example.  Your first trips are full of excitement - you see how to get there (follow the empty carts), you watch for cultural norms (everyone calls you "reina"), and you discover pricing and quality differences.  You're exhausted because you meander and buy too much, but that is easy to ignore when you think of how to use these newly discovered foods.  After a while, you know who to go to for the best broccoli, and you spend more time chit-chatting, and less time comparison shopping.

But shortly after you become comfortable with something, it's no longer exciting.  You know enough about how to do it that you aren't challenged.  It can become boring, and even perhaps an irritating chore.  If too many of your activities make that turn, your life is in trouble.

Now, after several years, most of my daily life is in that "comfort zone."  I've weeded out a few items that were heading towards the "irritating chore" category, but I find I'm searching for excitement, for a challenge, for a new purpose.

In my search for "different," I don't want to lose sight of our original purpose - find a way to spend more time together.  Secondarily, we wanted to give ourselves the opportunity to experience... whatever strikes us!  To find out what else might interest us, and delve in!  What I *have* discovered is that I enjoy so many things, and each new activity builds a skill.  There are also aspects that are just plain hard and frustrating, but ultimately rewarding.  I am finding out more about myself.  One thing that I pretty much knew, but which was made obvious to me is that I very much enjoy engineering - the work, the problem-solving, the pure focus, the geek-jokes, and the community.

I thought about working here in Costa Rica, and maybe that will be something in my future.  But I know that if I did that, a lot of things would have to change.  It would impact my life here, and not all for the better.  When I pick up a painting from the framers, and it takes me an entire hour to do so, I have to wonder how in the world working Ticos survive!  I see the long line of people waiting for the bus to work at 4:30 in the morning, and I don't even have to wonder for a second if I would want to do that (that would be "no!").  It simply takes a lot longer to do anything here.  When you aren't working full-time, you can usually deal with that.  So, if I did work here, it would have to be part-time.  The intriguing aspect of working here would be that I would see a whole different side of the culture.  I got a hint of that by taking classes, and it would be interesting to experience more.  So, for now, I won't toss the idea completely aside.

What I have decided to do is to keep Costa Rica as a home base, mix in some travel to explore more of the world, but take contracts for software engineering elsewhere.  I think this will keep my Costa Rica life pleasant and relaxing, with plenty of time to explore the "other" life, and still provide the excitement and challenge (in manageable bursts) of work.  No one can predict the future, but this is a plan I can enjoy following :-)

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