Stop and think about the people you know. How many of them live their whole life within their comfort zone? How many of them do not take the risks for a better life they dream of when they could? I recently had a chat with one of my oldest friends, and while telling him about Kalu Yala as an option to get a new perspective in life, he answered me: “Yes, but if I am really ready to take the kind of risk you are talking about, I need to be absolutely sure it will advance my interests and serve my career goals.”
If we’re always afraid of branching out in our lives without the certainty that it will benefit us in the near future, we’ll soon find ourselves in a treadmill of a life and not following our dreams or doing the right thing. Doing work in general is important to us because it brings meaning to our life, makes it possible to express ourselves and upholds the development of community life and infrastructure. Individual contributions to society are the key to our development as a human race. However, if we neglect the core reasons of doing fulfilling work to instead focus on productivity, it can make us blind to our own future. Giving yourself a chance to expand your comfort zone and adapt to new situations can be a very uplifting experience – either locally or overseas like I did it. Simply put, I wanted to take a risk for widening my horizon and exploring new methods on how to do work and take part in a more sustainable way of life.
The reason many of us do not take risks for a better life has a lot to do with submitting to outside expectations and pressure. Pressures such as company engagement, manipulative advertising, keeping up with the Joneses’ and making sure we don’t fall by the wayside. The fear of missing your ride in society’s merry-go-round as it starts to gather pace keeps most of us living according to majority values or the status quo. Our society’s artificial boundaries prepare us to think we must succeed in our career and be productive at the expense of our health. We must constantly study, exercise, eat well, think twice, create schedules, experience the extreme, endlessly improve and safeguard ourselves from losing it all. All this just so that you can say, at the end of the day as you’re lying in bed (exhausted by all the things you did in fear of failing or losing your job) that you managed to live up to all the expectations laid upon you. This pattern is easily noticed in the streets of Panama City the same way it has visibly affected the daily routines in the US, Germany, Japan or Finland.
John Lennon once said:
“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
Life is not a race; at least it should not be a race. Projects like Kalu Yala, along with other similar initiatives that try to figure out the real essence of a good life always include risks. Life is about risks, taking risks and picking up the pieces of wisdom on the way – it’s not something to put on a resume for your future boss, not to populate endless forms to demonstrate you’re worthy of owning a life. Life is to be present when something happens. Like in sustainable development, organic farming, or long term community creation, the true result in life comes through taking chances and lessons learned – a result that will fulfill your life with true happiness of being exactly what you are in a place you can call home.
Albert Einstein, whose massive bust sticks up in a plaza named after him here in Panama, recently reminded me of the mysterious dimension of time as I saw him there solemnly watching over people in their everyday lives:
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” – Albert Einstein
Maybe we should honor this wise man and give our projects – and ourselves – some time to grow and adapt. Similar to the way trees need time to bloom in our Kalu Yala valley or as our village grows little by little along with our dreams of it. I truly believe that in our hearts we know that life is ultimately about exploring new frontiers, finding your place and having courage to interact with the people around you.
If you want to give your dreams a chance to bloom and step into the trail already partly cleared by the KY interns and staff, or just want to get more information about our internship programs, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information on how to apply.