What do a catamaran cruise from Tortuga Island in the Pacific Ocean, a private van ride from Manuel Antonio National Park and a local bus ride from a day´s work in the San Jose Children´s Hospital have in common? For me, it has been the song Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins. In each of these situations this song was playing and each time it felt like it was playing just for me. When I heard it, it seemed to last forever and I found myself locked in moments of powerful reflection.

The song speaks on how lucky we all are to have what we do, whether it is health, money, or simply the ability to enjoy our lives. Especially in Costa Rica this dynamic is evident to me, both as an outsider and as an American. No matter how bad my days are or how difficult things might seem for me, I am surrounded by people who have it much harder and can´t just take a plane ride away from all of it. I see hundreds of situations I want to understand and thousands of people I want to help, but like the song says, I often feel incapacitated by how overwhelming it all is.

Oh, think twice, it´s just another day for you and me in paradise. Oh, think twice, it´s just another day for you, you and me in paradise...Think about it. As sad and hard as it is, this is where I have always stopped. I see the things around me and I think about them, but what can I do? Where do I start? How do I help? Oh lord, is there nothing more anybody can do, oh lord, they must be something you can say. I think there is something I can say. In the book I´m currently reading, What About the Big Stuff by Richard Carlson, there is a story of a meditation student who wanted to make compassion more a part of his everyday life. He lived in an apartment in a major city and at the bottom of his stairs, on the sidewalk, there lived a man who was homeless. For a long time, like most other people, he walked right past the homeless man, never making eye contact. Occasionally he would give him change, but more out of guilt than anything else. However, one day after thinking more about compassion and how he could use it more in his everyday life, he decided to try something new. That morning when we walked out his door he looked the man in the eye as if he were a close friend. The homeless man looked down to the ground uncomfortably and didn´t want to look at him back. Although it was small, it was the start of something greater between the two men. As the weeks went by, the student continued to look at the man everytime they met and would politely say, ¨Good morning, how are you today?¨ in the mornings and ¨How was your day?¨when he came home. Little by little the other man began to respond back, first with glances, then with answers like, "I´m doing even better than I was this morning. Thank you very much." Eventually the exchange became an enjoyment for the student and he would look forward to seeing his friend each day when he came home. One day, however, the man was not there. Days and weeks and months went by without a trace of the man by the stairs and, although sad, the student eventually went on his way and continued with his life as usual.

One day, months later, the student came home and found a strange man sitting on his steps who stood up immediately to greet him. He didn´t recognize him, but he looked vaguely familiar. "I´m sorry to bother you, sir," said the man, "but I just had to come back and thank you." For what, said the student. "You see," said the man, "I used to live right here, under these steps. I was so ashamed of myself and had so little self-respect, that no one really knew me. For as long as I can remember, no one was nice to me. No one would look at me or give me the time of day. I had no friends and no self-respect. But then you started to be nice to me. Eventually I realized that if you could be nice to me and show me some respect, then maybe I could show myself some respect too. So I went and found myself a job and a place to live. I got some new clothes. My life has changed. And you know what? It´s because of you. Your kindness and willingness to respect me and be nice to me changed my life. I just wanted to say thank you."

Oh yes, think twice, it´s just another day for you and me in paradise. Oh yes, think twice, it´s just another day for you, you and me in paradise. Just think about it. Think about it. It´s just another day for you and me in paradise. It´s just another day for you, you and me in paradise. Paradise.