I’ve been back in Matagalpa, Nicaragua for over a month. There’s one reason why this place won my heart over a year ago when I visited it for the first time: Connection!
In our fast-paced world, simple moments can very easily pass us by. Slowly disconnecting us from the beauty of nature, from each other and from our own true self.
If you feel like you’re constantly stuck in a rat race, I hope to inspire you to change your busy mindset to slowing down and reconnect. You’ll feel a source of energy and vitality to accomplish so much more and truly experience meaningfulness in your life.
Connection With Nature
With the many walking trails only a skip and hop away from where I live, I very often go for walks along the different trails, sometimes for hours. The sounds of birds singing, running waterfalls and leaves rustling in the wind, fill me with a vibrant, exhilarating, yet peaceful energy. An energy of aliveness within my mind, heart and body as the chatter of my thoughts shuts down. I am OUT of my busy mind with the need to rationalize, analyze and control everything to fall into place which only adds so much more work for myself.
Nature has a comforting way of showing me that by slowing down I’m able to accomplish something meaningful.
By removing my sense of urgency, I’m totally focused and involved in my work at hand with passion and excitement instead of frustration. Let me tell you, ideas, opportunities or, the answers I’m looking for are right there in front of me when the time is right, not necessarily when I think they should be there. Everything seems to fall into place without any effort.
Connection With People
Besides the spectacular trails, there’s a hidden treasure way up in the mountain, El Tambor neighborhood that opened my heart to gain a deeper understanding into suffering and joy.
The people of El Tambor live in extreme poverty. Yet, their smiling faces and the sparkle in their eyes radiates a joyful aura of abundance in their life.
Why is this? Are they living in lala land?
Far from it!
They have built the most valuable, solid, indestructible possession that can never be lost or taken away from them: Human Connection!
They DON’T perceive their DAILY struggles and living conditions as suffering.
“When I get up early in the morning to go to work under the hot sun in the farms, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to feed my family,” one of the fathers explained.
Their struggles have a purpose bigger than themselves. “The moment you give meaning to your struggles, there’s no suffering because you are no longer a victim,” added one of the moms.
They have an immense sense of belonging within their community by helping each other with the little that they have. They do not hold on to food, physical help or any other means and necessities for their own security for the future. “You only worry about security when you start to hold on to things. There’s no security in things. There’s only security in that which can never be lost or taken away,” were the grandmother’s words of wisdom.
One day, as I was saying goodbye to the children after spending the morning playing together, she waved me over to the house. When I got to the entrance, she handed me a 5 lbs bag of red kidney beans (their main source for feeding their family). “Here take it,” she said, “It’s a gift for you.” She noticed my hesitation and said, “You’re presence is a blessing for these children. Seeing them having fun and laughing is the best thing a grandmother can ask for. We need to give and share what we have with each other. That’s how we receive abundance in our lives. You cannot take love, you can only give it.”
In their giving they have a strong sense of self worth and value. They have accepted their circumstances, but not identified their worth to them. They don’t live to acquire stuff and more stuff; they live in every moment of the day without comparison or fear of failure.
Paulo Coelho said it best when he said,
“We are afraid of losing what we have… But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”
Connection With my Playful Self
Which brings me to the time I’ve spent with the children: PLAY, PLAY and PLAY AGAIN!
I can’t tell you how many times one of them sneaks up on me as I’m walking through the park to scare me. I always jump and scream to give in to them. There’s something incredibly contagious about the laughter of a child and brings you into their world. I sometimes find myself being silly and pretending to stumble just to hear them laugh uncontrollably. They grab on to my leg and ask, “Where are you going? Come play with us.”
I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun playing hide’n seek, pitch n’ catch and some new game these kids make up along the way.
You know, as adults we’ve forgotten the magical, wondrous world of play. As we grew up, we were told it was time to be serious and start planning for the future. Boy, did we ever take it serious. For most of us, at the expense of disconnecting with our own inner, playful self that is longing to live NOW and not merely exist.
It doesn’t mean we become immature and sit around all day. Yes, we have responsibilities and life demands that we take decisions and actions. But, working and working to get more and more, worrying all the time about the future, can lead to a very lonely life.
If we allow ourselves to be more playful, our priorities and values may change and become so much clearer. We discover passions we probably buried deep inside.
With all this playtime, I started having fun by making short videos of my time here in Nicaragua (you can check them out on my facebook page). I don’t know where I want to go with this, but my playful self let me discover something I am having so much fun with now.
Today’s society has us believing that we need all kinds of stuff to feel worthy, be successful and achieve happiness. It’s becoming more and more difficult to be connected with nature, with each other and most importantly with ourselves.
The people of El Tambor have nothing yet, have everything.
It’s not to say we should get rid of everything we have but, let’s slow down and take the time for simple moments in nature and with each other. We’ll discover a magical bliss in the most valuable, priceless possession of all: Connection.