Admiring the ocean, and other ways to pay attention

As someone who grew up in cold climates, I still find the idea of taking the beach for granted to be a little bit strange. There’s a part of me that is incredulous every time my toes hit the sand. However, 15 years in Costa Rica has also allowed me to glimpse what it’s like when the beach is just a short trip away – or, for some, a part of every single day.

This past Monday, the first day in months that coastal residents could access the beach (from 5 to 8 am, weekdays only), I saw a lot of posts from around the country expressing the pure joy that families, surfers, and others felt when they were finally reunited with the ocean. “We’ll never take this for granted again,” many wrote.

When I asked earlier this week what readers would like to see during the four final months of this year of the Daily Boost, a couple of people said, “Please share mouthwatering beach and travel scenes so we can daydream about the future.” Here’s one such, a particularly delectable shot by Cris Young showing a point between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast. At the moment, it’s almost as distant a dream for me, in San José, as for someone a plane flight or two away.

We gaze at it, thinking to ourselves, we’ll never take it for granted again. Almost as soon as the words pass through our brain, we hope that they are true. We also wonder what they actually mean. For me, at least, part of what they mean is that I will pay more attention to the people who have now dipped their toes in the ocean again, those who notice its health and illnesses, those who have been telling us for years how to take better care of it.

One of the many words that keeps coming up for me during this crisis is “attention.” In Spanish, you “put” it. In English, you “pay” it, which I think is even more powerful. During these weeks when focusing our own attention is sometimes like chasing a swarm of flies around a room, we have come to understand how valuable our attention truly is. We notice the golden coins clinking by, sometimes in ways that matter, sometimes in silly ways. We have started, perhaps, to notice more often where we spend it, and how important that is.

Maybe that’s a start. Wishing you a safe weekend, and some happy dreams of warm waters.

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 FacebookIf you want to learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section, updated regularly – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.

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