Yesterday, I flew into Rio de Janeiro. It’s surreal to say the least, breathtaking in so many ways. But it’s not so much the friendly locals, summer weather, or beautiful scenery. Those are all great, but I’m honestly just excited to be here. This trip has been a long time in the making. Before I decided on a university, I had decided in my mind that Spring 2014, I would go to Rio de Janeiro to train in jiu-jitsu, surf, and stay for the World Cup. And that’s exactly how it’s unfolding. There’s this phrase that’s kept coming to mind this past year when things inexplicably came together: It worked, it worked, it actually worked. For me, it expresses part incredulity, part joy-filled gratitude for the circumstances. And it’s how I feel right now.
For me, Rio’s not just a place. It’s a symbol. It represents existential freedom – I can achieve what I want. I’m reminded of the protagonist from my favorite book, The Alchemist – coincidentally authored by a Brazil native. The protagonist, Santiago dreams of a hidden treasure far, far away from his homeland of rural Spain at the Egyptian pyramids. On the road to finding that treasure, he learns about himself, and about the world. As I sit here in Rio, my favorite line from The Alchemist comes alive: When you want something with your whole being, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it. I’ve wanted this trip for a long time, and so many things outside my control fell into place to see it happen.
I’m not entirely sold on the philosophy that the Universe changes to accomodate my needs and wants, but I believe there is something magical about putting out your best effort. When you give yourself single-mindedly to a pursuit, you’ll be surprised at the results. You get back more than what you feel like you put in.
Of course there were some setbacks; It was nerve-wracking going through program applications and figuring out the Visa process (post to come) on my own, but right now, I know it was all worth it.