The first hike into the forest at Las Cruces Biological Station was not only exciting, as it was my first time journeying into a tropical forest, but at the same time slightly unnerving due to the lingering warnings of all the dangers that can be found in the wilderness. As we went deeper into the trail, a fresh clean feeling was in the air and the sounds and life around were unreal, almost as if everything once seen and read in a textbook was coming to life. When we were told to go observe an area for about 30 minutes and describe what was around and sketch the observance, I was a little apprehensive because one, I didn’t know what I was going to find and two, the most descriptive thing I can draw is a stick person. Once I was placed in my designated area and told to observe, I turned everything else in my mind off and focused solely on what was happening around me. In just several minutes, from what first seemed like a quiet, non-moving area full of trees, I saw and heard more around me than I had captured the whole hike down. With all the birds talking, cicadas buzzing, crickets chirping, water flowing, and other animals moving around, there was an abundant sense of life around. In typical daily life we are always on the move, in the rush to get to class, finish assignments, make a meal, and complete all the other daily activities, which often prevents us from just stopping and as people say “smelling the roses.” I myself am guilty of this determined mindset to see how much can be done in 24 hours or technically 12 depending on how much sleep is needed, but those 30 minutes in the forest just listening, smelling, observing, and feeling what was around gave me an indescribable feeling of peace that soothed my original apprehensiveness, made me smile, and made me what to just sit there for the day. I felt blessed to be able to get a glimpse of the lives of other things around me.
Just being in Costa Rica for about a week, I feel I have experienced a completely different style of learning that has already impacted my way of thinking and living. While walking in the garden, a similar experience occurred when I slowed down for a moment and looked at the grass and flowers around me and came across multiple insects worthy of collecting. I feel that there is so much life going on around us every day and instead of just focusing on our daily activities and rushing through the day, we need to stop every now and then, breathe, and perhaps instead of “smelling the roses,” observe a tree and the ground around it for a few minutes in the tropics and see the amazing things that happen. I am excited to use this experience as a building block for more exploration and more experiences to come and I hope to learn from it so much as to bring it back to the US and become less rushed and slow down for a few minutes every now and again.