Day 21: There is a castle in the clouds

If you’re reading this bright and early on Monday morning, you’re probably bracing yourself, just as I am. Right? Is at least part of your brain thinking, “Oh, lord. It’s Monday. What fresh hell will be inflicted on us by the time I turn off my computer tonight?”

I hear you. Here’s something that I plan to draw comfort from when those crises roll around. No matter what happens out in the world, there is one place where you can be sure something good will have happened by the end of today. There is a little corner of Costa Rica, hidden away up a long and winding road, where people from all over the world will have spent the day trying to figure out together how to fix the environment, resolve conflicts and promote world peace.

I recently got to spend three days at the University for Peace, and I gotta tell you, it makes me feel better just knowing it’s there. On a hillside where toucans flit from tree to tree, every corner you turn yields a new spot to rest and reflect, the bathrooms are adorned with poetry, and the benches are labeled “BENCH OF DREAMS,” it’s impossible to be cynical. It’s impossible not to be grateful for the foresight of the people who donated this incredible piece of land; the UN General Assembly for establishing this institution; the Executive Education Centre that allows people like me to take a class; and the fresh-faced young people – they might not all be fresh-faced and young, but that was my overwhelming impression – who seek out a degree there. They’re not doing it to become more prosperous, or even more successful, by the traditional standards many of us might employ. They’re doing it to become effective leaders, to make a bigger difference, and to become gentler human beings.

If you live in Costa Rica, head to Ciudad Colón and take a day trip up to the public park next to the university, where you can stroll around and even enjoy a meal at the little restaurant nestled between ponds, Kaninka. The drive up alone is soul-soothing. And if you can’t go in person, try making UPeace – or your favorite lovely spot where future leaders are being educated – your happy place for awhile. Pour yourself a cup of coffee at the university soda, sit down on a Bench of Dreams (because who doesn’t want to sit on a bench of dreams?), smile as a muddy dog or marmalade cat inevitably curls up nearby, and gaze out over the valley below. We are not alone. If we don’t have the strength to think of answers, someone out there is doing it for us – and when they sleep, or give up hope, maybe that’s when we’ll find the energy to take a shift.

May this idea bring you a little peace of mind as a new week begins.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

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