"What ifs" to "What can be"
As we checked the boxes, completed our health questionnaires, got our QR codes, made sure we had registered with the state of Hawaii, Scott and I looked at each other and wondered was the labor of traveling worth it. Did we have the paperwork ready to show proof that we could enter this beautiful tropical island? What if one of the 11 of us didn’t register correctly?
This was a family trip that was well into the planning stages 15 months ago. It was a trip to celebrate my mom’s birthday. My mom had planned this for last June and abruptly, just like thousands of other travelers, our plans were halted. Being stopped for such a long time, it’s easy to become complacent and lack the motivation to try something new. That is almost what happened to us.
It’s interesting when you are working on a project, committing to a plan, moving to a new location, going to a new school, saying yes to a first date, right before the launch or the take off, you often second guess your decision. And too often, we as humans, decline the offer or the opportunity because of the fear of the unknown that gets in the way.
So, as we were saying yes to this trip, we had to get our head back into the game of traveling.
We made our way into our basement, rummaged through the bags, dusted off the suitcases, handed out the carry-ons to our girls, and began the checkoff list of packing the essentials for a summer trip. The girls were shouting, “Has anyone seen the toiletries bag? Did you pack your water shoes? Did you pack your pajamas? Don’t forget to pack your goggles!” I was listening to the chatter and bustle of footsteps moving above my head as I continued to search for my luggage. And then something caught my eye. It was peeking out of the box of mason jars and packing materials we store in the basement. There was a small butterfly bag.
Of course, I could not just overlook it. It was the bag that Hannah and Rebecca took to Costa Rica 9 years ago. Inside the bag was a handful of shells, a coffee plantation sealed bag of treats, and a pamphlet for Monte Verde with pictures of hanging bridges over the cloud forest. Then, in the folded pocket, I saw a hand drawn picture that said “We love you Bianca!”
A flood of memories washed over me, and I was taken back to our summers when Scott and I had literally packed up our 3 year old Hannah and our 15 month old Rebecca to board a plane to live in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica. Our sense of adventure with babies, not second guessing what the future would hold, and the excitement to see a new place with our children were the only thoughts that circled our mind.
Of course, looking back, I wonder, how did I pack up my 15 month old? What about all of the crazy illnesses she could have contracted? Would it be conducive to having a toddler living near a cliff that dropped down to the ocean?
Were we reckless? No, we of course asked our doctor about precautionary health advisories, we tried to baby proof the amazing house, but we also knew that we were going to have to just roll with the adventure and know that our plans just might change along the way.
Those trips were life changing. Scott and I debated teaching in Costa Rica, we debated hosting a dear friend’s daughter that we made that first summer, to study in the United States. We debated selling our 2 cars, and living simply with one car. We debated even returning back to the United States. . .
With age, we tend to worry a bit more, put roadblocks in our plans, and have too many “What ifs” instead of “What can be”. Those summer moments taught us that there is so much opportunity, growth, and experience beyond the walls we surround ourselves with.
Although it has been comforting to be home for the past year and to enjoy our “home projects” I do look forward to seeing what this trip has in store for my mindset.
Now, three days later, as I observe the 5 sea turtles slowly swimming through the secluded lagoons off the coast of Kauai, I realize that the “What can be” is so much better than the “what ifs” could happen. The sunsets that paint the sky like rainbow sherbet, the morning rainbows that glisten on my morning run, and the sound of the wind rustling through the palm trees, all of these unforgettable moments would have been lost if we hadn't taken that leap of faith to try something new again.
I wonder how many of us have been stunted with trying something new? What if we paused, recaptured for a moment that youthful ignorance, and attempted something out of our comfort zone? For me, I can't wait to chase a waterfall today and find something beautiful that nature has to offer.