Grunt. Pout. Sulk. This one’s going to be a tough one to get through.
Today I am reminded of why we celebrate birthdays. We don’t do it for the cake (well, maybe some of us do it for the cake) or the presents. We don’t do it to have an excuse to spoil ourselves rotten, and anyone over the age of 30 certainly doesn’t do it to overtly advertise how much older (and hopefully wiser) they have become. We do it to celebrate the life of someone we care about. Perhaps someone close to us such as a family member, co-worker, or friend. Perhaps someone we’ve never met, or furthermore, someone who has already passed on (think Martin Luther King Jr. or Jesus). Isn’t that how so many holidays came to be anyway? Born out of the idea that individuals would come together to honour the legacies of others marked by their birth over and over again, year after year? In any case, when we celebrate birthdays we are choosing to acknowledge and appreciate the presence that others currently have (or had) in our lives. The icing on the idiomatic cake? Being handed a slice of (and taking a big ol’ bite out of) the dessert of champions: generosity.
That’s the real secret about birthday celebrations, truly: that we get to give back to those who have treated us to something special in life – room and board, a listening ear, a hearty laugh, a material or financial loan, a cathartic release, a cushion of support, or a swift kick in the butt – enabling us to become who we are today because at some point in our past they were exactly who we needed them to be.
Today would have been Paul Walker’s 41st birthday had the world not lost him in the tragic and unnecessary way it did last November. Speaking on behalf of all individuals who believe in goodwill, kindness, and paying it forward, we lost one of the most genuine souls in the club. Since he lived fully, appreciated the beauty in small things, gave generously to others, and radiated happiness, thousands of people around the world are holding their heads high above the grief today. After all, birthdays are for celebrating, so it seems only fitting to acknowledge and appreciate his kind character, positive influence, philanthropic impact, and humble heart. Fortunately, Paul’s legacy is far more walk than talk as it is rooted in the example he led. This means that we can best honour him by following in his footsteps and doing what he did and loved best: helping others.
And who better to rise to the challenge than Mr. 1 Year 1000 Things Challenge himself: Jesse Brisendine. If you haven’t yet learned who Jesse is, you’re about to. Oh, and you’re welcome – he will change your life.
Jesse is one of the strongest people I know. His heartache is bountiful (you can read about his life experiences on his blog) but he has managed to turn his tears into triumph in commendable and inspiring ways. He is also a life coach, personal trainer, and photographer, but those are plain and simply jobs. The type of person he is and what he believes in is what is most admirable. He teaches love as something real, understandable, and achievable, and his attitude towards life, fear, and grief is infectious. He was also one of Paul’s best friends, which I debated even mentioning in this post (name-dropping makes me cringe!) but figured it was necessary to do so in order for the event promotion below to make perfect sense. I can only hope that Jesse receives the acknowledgement and appreciation he deserves too – certainly not for his ties to celebrity but for the change he is bringing to our world (whether he realizes it or not) that would make any best friend (including his own) proud.
Combine the determination of a friend, the feat of honouring a kindred spirit gone too soon, and an interest in helping others, and you’ve got what has turned into a giant birthday celebration with guest RSVP’s from all over the world. Jesse has titled today the International Sunrise And Sunset Around The World Day with the intent of encouraging us all to take a moment to admire life’s beauty and hopefully bring in $1,000,000 for Paul’s non-profit organization: Reach Out WorldWide (ROWW). Participants are asked to post photos of the sunrise and/or sunset today (wherever they are in the world) on the event’s Facebook page along with a screenshot of a donation to ROWW. The purpose is to not only raise funds for the worthwhile organization but to spread awareness regarding their disaster relief efforts and the humble vision of their fallen founder.
This is where you come in: faithful blog reader, Costa Rica traveller, and/or social media junkie. Regardless of how you found your way here, we’re happy to have you. We’re even happier to let you know how you too can become part of such a wonderful initiative. It’s super easy. Here’s what to do:
- Head over to our ROWW fundraising page and donate as much as you feel comfortable giving (even $1 makes a difference!)
- You can also donate directly to Jesse Brisendine’s fundraising page if you would prefer (the money is all going to the same place!)
- Send ROWW (@ReachOutWW) and Jesse (@JesseBris) some love by reaching out to them via your Facebook, Twitter, and/or other social media accounts. The more people who know about this amazing event and cause, the more likely Jesse will reach his goal and ROWW will be better prepared to help those in need immediately when they need it.
At Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated, we’re trying to do our part too. Via our aptly named Reach Out Costa Rica Travel Philanthropy Project, we are dedicated to donating $1.00 of our own funds to a worthy initiative for each Costa Rica tour (per person), service (per person), hotel (per night), vehicle rental (per day), and domestic flight (per way) reserved through our company (we’re excited to have added ROWW as one of the organizations travellers can choose for us to donate the project funds to on their behalf). Developed as a means through which travellers can put their vacations to good use, through the project the travellers can enjoy their time in Costa Rica and leave knowing that their trip reservations have helped others worldwide.
Of course, our efforts wouldn’t be complete without the help and support of our amazing Costa Rica business partners. When we reached out to them, both Monteverde Villa Lodge and H2O Rios Tropicales responded quickly and donated funds to our ROWW fundraising campaign. Monteverde Villa Lodge (specifically its owners – Heiner and Ana) have long been friends of ours. Incredibly humble and kind, it is no surprise why their quaint hotel and cabins in Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest area are not only a popular choice, but are consistently rated highly by travellers who are treated to exceptional customer service. Further south along Costa Rica’s central pacific coast travellers will find stunning Manuel Antonio complete with its mountainous landscape, pristine beaches, raging rivers, and of course, the famous Manuel Antonio National Park. As one of the best adventure tour operators in the region, H2O Rios Tropicales offers great guides, a variety of fun water activities (from white water rafting to sea kayaking to river tubing), and its owner (Leo) is always lending a helping hand. Judging by the way these two partners stepped up to back us when we leaned on them, it is obvious why both are as established and successful as they are. Clearly travellers have learned for themselves that they can rely on these companies and it is this same element of dependability that causes us to recommend them over their competitors any day that we can.
So what’s with the sunrises and sunsets? Good question, and probably Jesse would be best person to answer it for you. What we can say is that there’s something incredibly refreshing and calming about both phenomenons (in our opinion!). Sure, they are pretty to look at and 9 times out of 10 they can be captured in a stunning photo, but any philosopher at heart (hopeless romantics, eternal optimists, and happiness engineers included) will tell you that real beauty is reflected in representation, not projection (that’s funny, the same could be said about Paul). To us, that beauty is the gift of a brand new day. A new day to try something you’ve never tried before, to tell someone you love that you love them, or to better yourself in a way you desire. When that new day is a tough one, you know there’s another one (along with another try and another chance) only a few hours away. It’s our planet’s way of reminding us that life is divided into days – snippets of opportunities that appear in front of us like clockwork. Literally, 24 hours at a time. Of course, none of us know how many opportunities we will be given in our lifetime or what the criteria of those opportunities may be, but the bigger and more life-changing question is, what are you going to do when they come knocking?
Feeling philanthropic? Inspired? Motivated? Mushy-gushy? Seize today. ROWW is an incredible organization founded on humility and you can help them help others by donating to their cause.
If you’re more of a visual learner, take a moment to view our gallery photos below from a handful of incredible sunrises and sunsets that we have been fortunate enough to have experienced throughout our Costa Rica travels.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Which sunrise/sunset is your favourite?