Today marked one month for me after leaving and officially starting this experiment. Or at least 30 days of being here in Costa Rica. Here are my before and after pics up til now:
Surfing every day (often twice), hiking, not eating as much (or as poorly), and basically sweating my ass off in tropical humidity have helped me shed some fat, drop a couple pant sizes, and work my muscles –The jungle weight loss program. And I’m not as pasty either. Growing a beard too.
I’d like to think I look more grounded after 30 days, but I don’t feel like it. However, if anything, my Day 30 pic does reveal a certain type of awareness, even hardness, from confronting some of my shadows — things that I hide, repress, or deny. I try to keep them in front of me more, so I see them, and don’t let them talk more than they should. Things like irrational fear.
If I narrowed items down to one thing I’ve learned so far, or gained more awareness of, is that I hold a LOT of fear.
I’ve known this for years, but being forced to sit alone with near-daily bouts with various fears has been like the emotional parallel to my physical adjustments. Whether it’s hiking half an hour to a surf spot then paddling in the ocean for hours at a time; or sitting and journaling for a while after wrestling with fear — such activities are hardening me in a good way. I wake up a little sore every morning, physically and emotionally. My shoulder is stiff and I experience a bit of anxiety of some sort. One and the same.
The difference is that I like the physical growth (or contraction), because I can see it outwardly. I hate the emotional adjustment, because it doesn’t show in the mirror; it shows in my mind’s eye, which sometimes is more accurate than a mirror. I absolutely hate it. It pisses me off. It makes me angry when I more clearly see my strong fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of insanity. Fear of…well, I’ll stop there. I’m not angry that I see these shadows; I’m angry that they have so much influence on me.
But when I bring them out into the open, when I see them as I write about them, even publicly here, they shrink a bit. Like shadows, they are amplified, or diminished, depending on perspective. Depending on the lighting. And shadows typically don’t like the spotlight because they tend to have more strength when they are not seen for what they are. They have louder voices, like the Wizard of Oz saying, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” …until we see the reality of their fragility.
The thing is, these shadows are a part of me, hardwired in some ways. So when they shrink back in bright light, I squint too. The exposure hurts. And I am tender. But I am getting hardened too. The insulating “fat” of denial is melting a bit. And I am facing my fears. And it sucks.
But there ya go. That’s basically what my first 30 days have been like, and how I’m feeling. Now it’s on to see what Days 31 and beyond have in store.
….And by the way, while I invite comment, I just want to add that I don’t want any advice. I’ve got enough people talking in my head already. 🙂 (And just saying that is an exercise in itself, so thank you.)