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Connecting in Puerto Rico by Elsie Ramsey

I’m on vacation in Puerto Rico for two weeks. I’ve been looking forward to this respite from the East Coast and the grinding pressure of life in semi-post COVID for MONTHS. And now that I’m here, I have to put away the bad habits that prevent meaningful experience.

We got off to a bumpy start when our rental property lost its running water and a hotel stay became necessary. And it’s been far more difficult detoxing from technology than I expected: I find myself pulling out the phone on the beach, on walks, by the pool and during down time. The most relaxed I’ve been was when I gave it to a hotel staffer to charge, while I remained poolside. It was as if the surrounding air, water and patter of small children became brighter and softer. As these velvety sensations landed, I was reminded of the final scene in 2021’s Oscar nominated film, The Sound of Metal. Ruben, a young recovering addict and musician, has lost most of his hearing. He resorts to cochlear implants to reengage with the world audibly. The implants wildly distort sounds and give off constant shrill reverberations. Sitting on a Paris bench one afternoon, he unplugs the device. In perfect silence, we gaze at the startling beauty of a tree rustling in the wind. It looks like God or Transcendence or Resurrection. His eyes fill with tears and the screen fades to black.

It’s a wonderful metaphor for turning both inward and outward simultaneously. Travel presents the same opportunity. Around me life’s treasures make gracious offerings–enchantment, human connection; the sea water’s cool. By observing the external beauty, I find memories and feelings inside myself. It’s in these moments of synergy that I crash into life.

The main point: Gifts are always abundant. The difficulty lies in receiving them.

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