Costa Rica Growth

Chew on this

Yesterday I got back from visiting my family in Costa Rica. My mom and I were going to go together last year, but the trip was canceled when everything was locked down due to COVID.

When she told me she bought a plane ticket, I figured I would go before we get locked down again.

It was a fun trip that I hope to post more about later. We went horseback riding, and walked up and down the mountain, enjoyed all my grandma’s cooking, did some reading, and made a badass Google Sheet for Rancho Naturalista, the family business.

But what I wanted to talk about most, was a lesson we could all learn from my grandpa.

When I was young I thought my grandpa was the coolest guy in the world. Always a proponent of healthy living he was super strong, and until his 80s, was able to go vertical on a flag pole. He wore a black cowboy hat with crocodile teeth on it over a full head of bright white hair. With the bearing of a judge from some older time and having heard countless tales from my mom about his heroic deeds and Christian nature, I always wanted to be like him when I grew up.

We always had a great relationship and I imagine my hero-worship of him helped. Once when I was young and bored of playing Monopoly, I started stealing some of the fake money from the bank and when he found out he started yelling to my mom that I was a cheater. Even though I was glad the game was over, that feeling was eclipsed by the sorrow I felt at letting him down.

As I grew older, I loved how he was this larger than life character who was much like a temple erected in his own honor. He would show off the fact that he could still do pull-ups and pushups in front of pretty girls. If you hug him or put your hand on his shoulder he would flex all his muscles. He always seemed like wisdom personified and it was a rare sight to see him lose in a game of chess. He always had some invention he was working on, or a board game he was creating, or a book he was writing.

He was eccentric and loved old boogie-woogie ragtime music. He relished in the fact he was anachronistic and once asked me for boxing gloves and was a little upset they had so much padding nowadays. He begged me for days to box with him. After telling me the rules of no punches below the belt and no hitting in the face and then immediately breaking both, I still took very little joy in hitting him.

I always thought it was a little weird that, during my childhood, my grandparents didn’t live in the same house but growing up with it just accepted it without much thought.

When I stayed in Costa Rica for a few months in 2015, I did get to learn a little bit more of the human side of my grandparents.

So I have looked up to my grandpa my whole life and still do. While I was hanging out with my cousin this past week, I mentioned how weird it was now, because though I still love my grandparents a lot, I know all about their past and flaws. The idea of not accepting them and loving them wholeheartedly doesn’t occur to me.

The thing is, at 90 years old, my grandpa has a lot of spite against many people and is very hard-hearted. He deals out condemnation and judgment for friends and family like most people give out candy on Halloween. He seems to delight in holding a grudge or pronouncing someone as his enemy. Once talking about the meaning of life he proclaimed it was for revenge.

What is weird is that he reads the bible for many hours every day, has preached in prisons, and is very concerned with everyone accepting Jesus as their personal savior. You would think someone who has spent so much time learning the forgiveness of Jesus would be a little more forgiving.

“I like your Christ, but not your Christianity.”

Mahatma Gandhi

When I visit we always have had long talks. Over the past few years, they tend to be me asking that he forgive and show love to his wife and his wayward children when he rehashes the wrong they have done to him.

I talked to my mom about all this on one of our walks down the mountain, and during our Sunday service she brought it up to him. He deflected the things she said, but later on, once everyone else went inside I brought up to my grandpa that Jesus said to love your enemies.

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”

Jesus, Mathew 5:44

While that quote seems like you would have a hard time coming back with anything against it, assuming you claim to follow Jesus, but he managed to.

I asked him what he thought of the word “Love” in that passage, and what does it mean to love someone. After his explanation, I directed him to the biblical one.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

If you take anything from the bible I would hope it would be the pairing of Mathew 5:44 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. Even if you weren’t a Christian, I imagine this world would be a much better place if we were all a little more forgiving. And if you do claim to be a Christian couldn’t you see how living these ideals that are in your bible would have people flocking to Christ?

“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”

St. Francis of Assisi

I say this not to bash my grandpa really but because people are mirrors to look at yourself and realize what you could change in your own life. This is me speaking from experience, with resentments that I have to consciously push away and remind myself to forgive and let go. Which is much easier when you are by yourself and more of a struggle around those with who your relationship is less than positive.

Since the universe loves to test me immediately after illuminating me, once my grandpa and I went inside, the dog grabbed my less than a week old GoPro Max off the table and used it as a very expensive chew toy.

A little under twenty minutes later I went back out to grab my shoes and the GoPro to find them in the middle of the yard and catch the dog slinking off.

I didn’t get mad as much as I was a little sad. “Oh man, that damn dog.”, I said in a deflated tone.

I know this because the dog had accidentally turned on the camera while he was chewing on it. It had been recording for twelve minutes before I found it.

Realizing my anger wasn’t going to solve anything, I laughed at the lesson and then later remembered that there was a “no questions asked” replacement policy with the GoPro. I was out a few bucks but really nothing to get upset over.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Nelson Mandela

On the flight back to Texas, I watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood with Tom Hanks about Mr. Rogers and ended up oscillating between getting choked up and outright crying the whole way through the movie, thinking how forgiveness and love and being present with people can change the world for the better.

Grandpa, if you read this I hope you don’t count me as one of your enemies, I’m still a big fan. It just goes to show that even the best of us are all only human and have a long way to go to attain perfection.

By Sam Watson

I'm pretty good at Microsoft Excel but a freak in Google Sheets.

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