New Year’s Eve was an incredible, touching, noisy, loving surprise this year… My past year has been one of firsts, of understanding more and more of the traditions of this culture and the incredible personal awakenings shared with family and within my relationship with myself.
I’ve been caught up in ‘observation’ mode since I arrived here in Costa Rica: learning about the culture; learning about what family is really all about; learning, watching and participating in a new life; and welcoming and assimilating the many differences I’m glad/happy to adjust to here in this new country.
Last night – New Year’s Eve – I experienced the lastest traditional family gathering ritual. Family sharing a meal, children racing around, fireworks going off as if we were in the middle of a war zone… the dogs yelping and running in and out of the house for safety…while each adult opened their heart. This tradition was new to me. I hadn’t heard about this and I wasn’t prepared for the emotional tension. The very visceral nature of each person’s soliliquey about what the past year with each person around the dinner table meant to them was powerful. I had a choice to ‘observe’ or to participate. Empathy moved in quickly. Participation followed.
Person after person held the floor. Person after person simply opened up their heart and threw it up all over the table as a gift for the family ‘song.’ Hurts, challenges, delights, thankfulness were revealed one by one around that table – each shared how they were impacted and had grown this past year through their relationship with each of the others sitting there. By the time the 3rd person began their story, I was holding back sobs. This kind of authenticity overcame any resistance I had left to bonding with this family.
The previous New Year celebration I’d begged off attending, and instead spent it alone in the mountains listening to the fireworks as if they were popping popcorn. This year I sat in the midst of brutal, cleansing honesty without shame, sitting around a table of people who respected, loved, admired, had issues with, and truly loved one another. As if we were a fire lit to warm one another.