It is one of the truly enjoyable aspects of living in a foreign land. You have to leave the United States to be able to visit the United States.
There is an obvious pleasure quotient to visiting family. However, I suspect that my case is a bit unusual. Here is what I get to do at the advanced age of 52. I am able to visit my brother, sister and mother – all in the very same house that we all grew up in. The biggest change over the years is simply that our father is no longer with us… well that and the fact that we are all quite a bit older than we used to be.
But that’s about it. In fact, the green shag carpet that we had there in the 70’s is still there. I’m in favor of a law regulating the life of carpet. This green carpet really should be illegal, but there it lies.
Aside from the joys of family, I get a real kick out of visiting my former homeland. I am very much transplanted now. I have lived in Costa Rica since 1999, and so in the normal course of my days, I don’t pay that much attention to the goings on of the States. The exceptions to this are when I visit there, or when there is some noteworthy happening that finds its way through all of the insulation that I’ve put up in my life, motivated largely by a desire to reduce, if not eliminate, the effects of media on my mind and by extension, on my life.
So, when I fly back into the States, it is normally via Dallas or Houston. I make it a practice to bee-line it to one of the airport book stores. In these stores there is generally a wall of magazines. This wall of magazines is an intensive crash course in what the media is currently pumping. The topics seen there will likely factor into my visit, and I expect to see these topics being worked and reworked in various configurations throughout my stay. This pumping is largely in response to what “we”, or the population at large, demand from the accommodating media.
My life in Costa Rica is immersed in a very different lifestyle than anything that I ever experienced when I lived in the States. The contrast of my “normal”, with the “normal” of the States, causes a sort of sensitivity. The aspect of this sensitivity that I focus on at this point in my travels is primarily the media. But there is a problem. I suspect this problem is due to the fact that I am from the States, so in fact the prevailing conditions in the States are never all that far from what I grew up with. So the acuity of vision, or sensitivity, only lasts for a short time. I quickly slip back into my deeply ingrained gringo-ness and all of the bru ha ha starts to make sense and grow in importance. All of the blaring news announcements, “BRAD APOLOGIZES TO JENNIFER” – from the tone one might think that World War 3 has begun, or that someone really has discovered perpetual motion. I just really get a kick out of these things when I first arrive in the good ole US of A.
Over the years, my visits to The Wall have provided me with an opportunity to re-evaluate my own life and my own move to Costa Rica so many years ago. I wonder at what it would take to get a presence on The Wall. It must cost a bundle to publish a magazine and distribute it to all the Walls every month, or week, or 2 weeks, whatever. Vale la pena, as they say in Costa Rica: it’s worth the cost. They incur the expense because they know that we – us humans – want this stuff, and we will pay for it.
I am a sponge, standing there. I smile at my own species while I observe the media, in all its glory, accommodating the gigantic demand for this brain-rot drivel.
I can’t say that I’m interested, heavens no! Ok, maybe a little, but not a lot. Well, you gotta admit, the personal carryings on of Jen & Angie does have a certain appeal, a certain “I think I’ll just take a minute and find out what is going on here” appeal.
In my visit to The Wall as I enter into the States, I really find that I’m not interested in the least. However, over the course of my stay, my attitude goes through a shift. As I leave, I feel that perhaps this information really does need to be told. And by golly, I really would like to know just exactly what Brad said to Jen when he apologized to her.
The Wall is diverse in its subject matter. I generally find that there is a hot technology topic of some kind, health, politics, and of course, celebrity. The Apple Corporation seems to be enjoying its 15 minutes. Health has gained some points over the years that I have been visiting The Wall.
The political scene ebbs and flows on The Wall. In past years George W. was a common feature on The Wall. I found it interesting how quiet The Wall was about Mr. Obama, but it was quite noisy about a few members of the large group that are vying for the GOP position in the upcoming presidential election.
So, as I fly out and away from this consumer haven, I do The Wall in reverse. I note how I feel about observations on life. And I like to watch how these feelings morph as I settle back into my “normal” in the coming weeks.
I have written in the past about my theory that I like to call “Original Thought”. Original Thought can be seen in visitors to Costa Rica on or shortly after about day 4 of their trip. Staying in a villa, nestled into the jungle, overlooking the Pacific ocean, there is a noticeable shift that occurs in people. The theory posits that getting away from the media, frees up the mind to think about topics that are genuinely of interest and originate from the person. The theory states that we all have a little something as a gift, like maybe a leaning towards poetry, or music. Or maybe we have a propensity for thinking up sustainable systems, or a better way to raise broccoli or whatever. The topics of The Wall are nowhere to be seen when Original Thought rears its head. People find themselves conversing about all manner of topics, topics that bear no influence at all from external media but instead originate from the pure, unadulterated human intellect that we all carry around with us.
So in my re-entry to Costa Rica, I watch as the numerous images that were repeated with regularity during my visit to the States, recede. The Wall will have to get along without me – until my next trip.