Here is the picture book version of my previous blog post, “Attitude of Gratitude.” If you haven’t checked it out, I tried to put the thousands of words to these pictures but I’m finding that even together, they don’t capture the experience. Namaste…
Friends Far and Wide,
After a lovely afternoon of exploring Santa Monica, making the most of my nine hour layover in L.A., I am in the air and heading Down Under. This Virgin Australia plane is pretty comfortable, and between sleeping, reading, eating and writing, I’m sure the next 14 hours will, literally, fly by.
I initially thought a nine-hour layover was going to be a bummer. Instead, however, it provided me an afternoon vacation in L.A., a place I have always been curious about. The “Big Blue Bus” to Santa Monica hauled me, ski case and two bags westward to the beach, collecting and dispersing colorful characters along the way. The ride, alone, was a perfect introduction to this new and vibrant place. Finally, I found a hotel willing to store my stuff, leaving me footloose and free. “Buddha’s Belly” for lunch hit the spot, as it had been about nine hours since I had wolfed down a breakfast of delicious leftover Indian food.
The kind server told me to check out the street performers along 3rd street and the beach. I wandered 3rd street, coffee in hand and eyes wide open. Singer, Chelsea Williams was the star of this cool scene and I bought her CD. The beach was cool, despite “the pier” being a little overly consumerist and touristy, for a place with such a strong individualistic and funky vibe. My toes had to test the waters of the Pacific to compare to the balmy 85-degree ocean I was swimming and surfing in last week. After feeling the chilly water, I nearly walked back the way I came to reclaim my gear and catch the bus on time. Some urge, however, pulled me down the beach a ways in the other direction. There I found a bunch of ripped dudes at a “big kid’s playground.” What an awesome spot! The big toys beckoned and I got to play/workout for about 15 minutes, before hightailing it back toward the bus stop. Yes, you might say, it has been a great trip, and I haven’t even left yet!
Now, an hour into the flight, the plane’s progress across the Pacific is slight but noticeable. As I examine the flight pattern spanning the vast ocean, I am taken back two weeks to my arrival in Acapulco. Over the last two weeks, I have gazed across this extraordinary expanse for many hours and from numerous vantage points. I looked down at the Pacific from Ski Paradise’s Villa Aquina. I surfed these waves in my favorite surfing village, Bonfil. I watched my good friend, Brian Moore propose to his fiancé, Sara, on the beach, while the sun sunk into the water. I looked across the Pacific, back at solid land from a fun and successful fishing excursion. I free-dove as deeply as I could into its clear water in search of tropical species and exhilaration. I floated directly above the crushing waves in the seat of an ultra-light plane. No view, however, struck me as deeply, as the view from my personal meditation “island” at Bambuddha.
Being in Bambuddha feels like being on an island. As soon as you step inside, the rest of the world melts away, leaving you surrounded by tropical beauty opening only to the beach and thousands of miles of blue water. Bambuddha is a place but also an idea, an energy, a way of life and a state of being. Christina, the visionary behind Bambuddha, told me that she set out to create a doorway to the realm of consciousness that lies beyond our normal state of perception and awareness. After spending a couple of days there, I was well through the doorway and didn’t want to return to “normal life” of merely gazing out the window. The energy within this space draws you out of yourself, allowing you to look back in. In other words, it practically demands a spiritual retreat and personal reflection. You need not try to get in touch with yourself; it just happens. The stage is set and all surroundings pull you to connect with the here and now; especially, because you can’t imagine any place you would rather be. And to top it all off, Christina offers the most incredible yoga classes in the world.
I suppose I can’t promise that everyone’s experience would be so profoundly moving as mine. I arrived at Bambuddha in an awfully good state of mind, after an amazing 10 days at “Waterski! Costa Rica.” I had another amazing week surrounded by the luscious beauty of Costa Rica, as well as the warm love of great friends, my wonderful girlfriend and my main man, Granddad. I could go on and on about the zip lining, the hikes, the scenery, THE LUNCHES, and, of course, the skiing. There was one event, however, that towered over all of the other incredible events and experiences of the week. Granddad shredded the Costa Rican water again!!!
I have no way of being sure but, we are speculating that Granddad is the only 82 year old, battling Parkinson’s disease for 7 years to ever slalom ski. Seeing him cut across the water again nearly made my heart burst with joy, and as we rode back to the dock together in the boat, I found myself moved to tears. Seeing his strength and courage inspired me and served to remind me of how much is possible and what anyone can achieve when willpower, determination and positivity are aligned. He has been my hero, mentor and roll model for 27 years, and I am grateful that he is still constantly teaching me about this crazy thing called life.
So after a happy, healthy week in Costa Rica, bonding with some of my greatest long-distance friends, introducing this great sport to my girlfriend and watching my original and primary ski partner rip it once more time, I was feeling on top of the world. Having so much to be thankful for probably made it easier to examine and absorb myself, while meditating in Bambuddha and taking sunset walks on the beach. When I moved over to Ski Paradise, I only found more to be thankful for. I found myself in the company of great friends, once again, surrounded by the beauty of the Villa, the view of Acapulco and thousands of miles of blue Pacific Ocean.
Though all of these experiences have been so vivid, meaningful and rewarding, I have not had the desire to cling to any. With so much positivity and fun, I have found myself enjoying each moment, where the future flows into the past. That Bambuddha state of mind gave me confidence that the future held only good things. Therefore, I could let the present slip into the past without grasping, and enjoy that fleeting time, without anticipating what was to come next.
My brief stop at my Mom’s served as further reminder of all that I have to be thankful for, a loving family (doggies included), a lovely lady – who learned to snow ski exactly three weeks after learning to water ski (I like that waterskiing came first), as well as food on my plate, gas in my tank and a roof over my head. Life is good.
As I speed toward the other side of our planet, I aim to keep this attitude of gratitude through all that’s to come. I am pumped for the Australian Open and Moomba. Aside from the 13-21 minutes of water time, I will get on this two-week trip, I am excited about the people I will meet, the kangaroos I will see and the unexpected events that remind me that I’m alive and all is well. If I happen to tear it up, that would be a super bonus.
Granddad has been telling me, since my first tournament, 19 years ago, “Win, lose or draw, Corey; you’re our guy.” I know the message sounds elementary, but I think I’m just finally understanding or believing it fully. Thanks, Granddad.