Pura Vida

A black and white self-portrait of me writing edited with a watercolor treatment.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

I have a terrible habit of writing in notebooks that no one ever reads.

Sometimes, late at night, I break them out and read through them again, notebooks spread all around me. This blog is my way of breaking that habit.

From time to time I’ll post some vintage notebook material on here. You’ll see something I wrote before; words that have rested in these lines and have never been read by anyone else.

A strangler fig grows tall in the jungle of Zancudo Beach, Costa Rica

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

I’ll show you some of the places I’ve seen, the ones I love and the ones I hate. The ones I just had to get down on the page. You’ll find these posts in the category, LIFE as I know it.

You’ll also find parts of my life as they happen in mid-stream, as well as things I discover about PLACE that refuse to fit nicely into the stifling convention of any category at all.

For today’s post, here’s something I wrote while in  Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica, one of the most extraordinary places I have ever been.

A huge bank of clouds rises before the long stretch of grey sand that is Zancudo Beach, Costa Rica

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

July 2013

I come to this page to write. To simply move this pen across paper, to pour myself into these lines. To write because I must.

I sit in the rocking chair and the warm, yellow heat of the morning rises in the air around me.  Outside, the palm trees sway gently in the breeze.

Palm trees sway in the yellow heat of the rising morning in Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica, Puntarenas Province

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

A truck bumps noisily over the one mottled road that runs through this place, passes, then fades from my hearing.

Trees lean in a green arch over the one rough road that runs through Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

The waves roll into the beach.  The noise they make is difficult to describe. It is not a crash, but from this distance a gentle swoosh, sometimes building, sometimes louder and sometimes soft.

A rainbow rises in the blue sky over the crashing waves at Zancudo Beach, Costa Rica, Puntarenas Province

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

How I long to be washed clean, to be tumbled headlong like a shell in the waves, scrubbed by the salt and the sand until I am smooth and shine with new life.

Two large brown and white whelks lay on the dark grey sand of Zancudo Beach, Costa Rica, Puntarenas Province.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

This is why I have come here; to be purified by this place. To find out who I am here, away from everything I have ever known.

Birds chirp in the trees, and each tune is distinct, telling the story of the one who sings it.

A woodpecker perches in a coconut palm, preparing to peck into some Pipa, in Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Insects, perhaps cicadas, let out their long, sustained calls that seem to stretch against time. I hear the thud of a coconut falling somewhere nearby.

A coconut, now bleached, sprouts a new baby coconut palm tree where it fell on Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

I sit quietly in the midst of all of this, soaking it in, becoming a part of it.

The separation between each individual thing begins to blur, blending, swirling, melting into the next.

I long for the respite of this multiplicity, to escape the harsh confines of my singularity, to become as one with the world around me.

I wish to borrow virtue from every detail, to become richer in my relation to everything, to swallow all of this inside of me and become less of me and more of this place.

The beautiful grey sand of Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica stretches to Pavones, lined by a wall of palm trees.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

I long for the simple nature of the ocean, the earth, the sky.

Oh Zancudo, lend me a bit of your peace to keep inside of me. Let it grow in my heart and stay there always, even when I am far away from here.

The words Pura Vida, or Pure Life are carved into the grey sand of Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica, and a peace sign.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

If you’d like to hear more about my adventures in Zancudo and beyond, follow me in LOCUS: A journey in search of PLACE.

To see more photography from Playa Zancudo, visit my post Emerson and Three Shades of Sunset.


9 thoughts on “Pura Vida

  1. Pingback: The Journey Home | LOCUS

  2. This is a lovely post! I have a drawer full of the notebooks I kept when I was younger. They were notes towards…They were a way of knowing where I was in the moment as well as the place. In those years I travelled a fair bit and I love to open a notebook at random and read the observations of my younger self. She noticed things that I might not notice. She took herself seriously in a way that I find kind of dear. I’m glad I have them. And occasionally they’re useful for the work I do now!


    • Thank you so much! I suspect most people who write have a stash of notebooks somewhere that they want to hold onto. Your way of talking about your younger self made me smile 🙂 Its so interesting how time, distance, and perspective can change everything about how we see ourselves and the world. I’m always looking for a way to utilize the writing I did before and give it a new life. I often use the setting descriptions I have written in real places for my fiction.


  3. I could hear the sounds around you through your words, and your husband’s photography enhances them. Peaceful and thought-provoking!

    When you read your older journals and writing, do you want to edit or change it based on the person you are today, and the experiences you’ve had since the words first were captured?


    • Thank you Cindi. When I read my old fiction I am constantly editing it in my mind, seeing weaknesses I never noticed before. I think this means I have become a stronger writer. In terms of my personal writing however, I don’t feel this way at all. I see it as a record of who I was in that moment. I also love reading about the places I have been. I can read the descriptions and be there again through my words. Thought provoking question!


  4. Pingback: Exploring PLACE in LIFE as I know it | Through his eyes...

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