When The Universe really wants you to get a message, she makes sure you don’t miss it.

Here we are in gorgeous Costa Rica, at Rythmia, to sit in sacred ceremony for a week. I left my packing to the extreme last minute, which you would imagine I’d have down pretty pat, as I’ve been here for ceremony many times before and know exactly what I need to pack.

I tend to leave my packing to the last minute in part because the suitcases stress out Grimby and then he gets all depressed (so I try to drop him off and then pack), and also because of who I am as a person who does not have a linear relationship with time and so mostly leaves everything to the last minute.
This time, though, I swear the cab was pulling up the driveway whilst I was still running around, grabbing some things and forgetting others.
At the last minute, I stuffed a green dress I’d been hemming and hawing over into my backpack, and then we were off.
As the plane’s wheels left the tarmac, I wondered aloud what I’d forgotten, only to realize immediately that I hadn’t packed a swimsuit. For a week in Costa Rica.
Now, this wouldn’t normally be an issue, because Costa Rica has many beaches, and that means there are many places to get a bathing suit. Except, of course, where I was headed (Rythmia is not near any towns, and the program is pretty jam-packed, so there’s not really time to go out shopping).
Luckily for me, the Toronto airport had a store that had a few swimsuits, so bingo: I grabbed a bikini I probably wouldn’t have chosen otherwise (and cost an arm and a leg), but hey, beggars (or people who don’t pack very intentionally) can’t be choosers. Swimsuit acquired and disaster averted. I mean, it’s not a real disaster, but I’d have been sad to have to be sweating and toasting on the sidelines while everyone else enjoyed the pools and sauna and spa.
Now here’s where it gets more interesting. We arrived in Liberia (Costa Rica, not Africa), only to discover that our bags have not made the journey with us.
Hilariously, the only clothing I have is a dress I almost didn’t bring and a bikini I forgot to pack. Oh, the irony.
Now, none of this is the end of the world, but it is uncomfortable. Plus, sitting in ceremony, one generally wants to be pretty comfortable, but that’s not really on the menu for us now.
It’s our third day here and not only are our bags not here, WestJet apparently has no idea where they are at all. It seems they weren’t scanned anywhere, so no one has a clue where they could be. What an adventure they must be having. I hope they take pictures and send a postcard.
In case it’s not obvious because of my incredible sense of humour, this is all very frustrating to me, though I think I’m doing pretty decently not completely losing my mind over it or fixating at the expense of what I’m here to do (I literally have a master’s degree in Service Management, so failures like this test me to the very fibres of my being).
I’ve been able to laugh and make jokes about it. I mean, when you don’t have underwear or deodorant in the tropics during the rainy season, it’s going to be funny.
We were able to ask for help and accept a ride to the nearest town so we could buy underwear at a grocery store. To be able to participate in my favourite yoga classes, we’ve each bought men’s swim trunks (Costa Rican women are much tinier than my Canadian frame so menswear it was to be).
And, what isn’t lost on me is that this is a lesson that God/Spirit/The Universe has been trying to teach me for a while now. My last several ceremonies with Mother Ayahuasca have been all about healing my attachment wounds and letting go of my tendency to cling and to hoard.
I have to admit, I’ve found the lesson a little onerous, and perhaps not really been as attentive to my homework as I might have been. In my defence, I have about 42 years of practice with my attachment-based tendencies.
But still. I knew I needed to work on the medicine I was given. Or maybe just to let the medicine work on me. And I was, a little at a time, all the while knowing that it was time to really lean into letting go, surrendering and relinquishing the hold that my stuff and my desire for control has on me. I’ve had to be patient, which isn’t my forté, because impatience won’t get me anything any faster.
So, it felt a little like showing up for piano lessons and pretending you’d been practicing every day when it’s extremely obvious that you haven’t touched the keys all week and you foolishly believe the teacher can’t tell. It wasn’t lost on me that as I headed back into ceremony, I was heading back in without my baggage.
I guess I’m in the remedial class, since I wasn’t paying attention the first time through. I’ve gotten to be with the increasing degrees of futile upset, first with my swimsuit, then the missing bags and all the things that I rely upon to feel comfortable: MY clothes, MY toiletries, MY ceremonial gear and clothes.
I was sad about some of the stuff I don’t know if I’ll see again. I know it’s just stuff, most of which I’m overly attached to, but there were a few precious-to-me items. And I was sad that the brand-new birthday present I’d just given Adam was lost on its maiden voyage.
I was frustrated at WestJet’s total lack of responsibility and customer care. I could (and have in the past) been completely hooked by a service failure like this, because it “shouldn’t have happened”, regardless of the fact that it very clearly had happened, and there was absolutely nothing I or my indignant fury could do about it.
I had to be okay and accept help when it was offered, instead of pretending I didn’t need or want it. I had to buy toiletries that look nothing like anything I’m used to. I gave up on cosmetics, but my vanity won and I bought a tube of Colombian mascara (this girl needs lashes, yo). I can now say that I’ve bought underwear in a grocery store. And when the women’s fitness gear would only fit one of my arms, I let go of my pride to buy mens swim trunks for yoga and ceremony.
All of this, and I haven’t even sat in ceremony yet. I guess it’s time to redefine when ceremony starts. The more I pay attention, the more I realize that maybe, if we’re paying attention, the ceremony—and the lesson—just never stops.