Panama – A Year Later – The Start of 2020

It’s crazy what a year of change can bring. Quantifying a year is one of those things that’s hard to conceptualize for a variety of reasons but the main one being, when you think about the age of the earth (4.53 billion years old), a year is mathematically equivalent to less than a second. Yet, sometimes, it feels like an eternity and sometimes, it’s so filled with change you can hardly believe you were where you were 365 days ago.

When I think back to where I was a year ago today, I am reminded of my first heartbreak of 2019. I had just gotten back from Panama and although I was excited to come home, I had a gut feeling that I would be staying home. Sure enough, Rob called me about a week later after we both had some time to reflect and decided it was time to part ways.

I was very conflicted at first. Part of me was excited to be staying home, to get back into some consistency and routine, to pursue the relationship I had just started. But the other part of me was really sad and I didn’t understand why until a couple months ago when I couldn’t kick the unwanted feeling that I wasn’t doing enough. I am the type of person that doesn’t like to be in one place for too long and sure, 2019 brought me a lot of positive change (I moved into my own place, I travelled to three new countries, my girlfriend and I moved in together, I bought my own car) but it also made me feel stagnant.

I have so many goals for myself. So many things I have told myself I am going to do in terms of travelling and adventuring and although Field Trips and living on the road was easily one of the hardest things I have ever done both emotionally and physically, it was also one of the most rewarding. I laid down in the RV at night, a stranger turned best friend living in the bedroom beside my little couch, and fell asleep exhausted and fulfilled knowing I put everything I had to offer into this experience but still, I was left feeling like I didn’t do enough. And in a lot of ways I didn’t but what I struggled to understand was that it wasn’t my fault.

I tore myself down for months afterwards, playing over every experience in my head, picking out everything I may have done wrong and everything I could have done better. I went over conversations, video footage, arguments, scenarios, every little detail I could possibly think of until it dawned on me; nothing could have prepared me for this experience. No amount of effort or participation or innovation could have changed this outcome. There is nothing I, or Rob, could have done differently because at the end of the day, I wasn’t experienced enough and there wasn’t enough time in the world for Rob to teach me everything I needed to know while running a business that occupied at least 95% of his daily routine/mental capacity. And that’s no one’s fault. Yet, I am still filled with regret at the way things ended and I’ve linked that specifically to my experience in Panama.

Panama was transformational in so many ways. It’s where I learned the most about my sexuality, it’s where I realized I wasn’t cut out for Field Trips and it’s where I realized I isolate myself beyond recognition the second I feel any sort of disappointment, dislike or negativity directed at me. I shut down in Panama. I isolated myself. I pushed those around me away. I stopped making an effort to get to know clients. I forgot why I was there. And in turn, I ended up disappointing myself, disliking myself and spiraling into a whirlwind of negativity trying to psychoanalyze what I could have possibly done differently to avoid this outcome.

The answer is nothing. The answer is, I did everything I knew how to do. The answer is, I tried my hardest and maybe I wasn’t good enough for this experience but that doesn’t mean I won’t be good enough for my current experience or my next experience. The answer is, I learned so much that I have thrown into my current career path that’s made me successful in this field. The answer is, I am strides ahead of where I was a year ago last year. The answer is, I have nothing to regret and nothing to be disappointed in because in my heart, I know I did my absolute best given the circumstances.

And when you think about it from an outsiders perspective, I literally jumped in an RV with a man I didn’t know at 22-years-old and spent five months travelling and fishing throughout the country/internationally. That in itself is amazing and genuinely unheard of.

I think I’ve come to terms with leaving Field Trips. I still think about it every single day and wish I could jump back on the road with Rob and I wonder sometimes what he would say if I called him up and asked if I could join him for a couple of months. But my life right now is consistent and I have people that rely on me and I have a lot to lose and I have goals and a steady income and two jobs and a house and a girlfriend who lives with me and we travel a lot and are looking at puppies and talking about getting engaged and sending each other pictures of homes to buy and rings we like and planning a future together. That’s something I could never have on the road.

And I think I’m ok with that. At least for now.

I don’t know what this next year will bring but I think it’s funny how we measure our success in terms of a year. How we compare January of one year to January of the next and use that to determine what we accomplished. It’s almost like we use the “new year” as an excuse to set new goals and ambitions when we should constantly be striving to reach our own goals and ambitions. I think it’s silly that we wait for the strike of midnight to start working on ourselves again. A social construct I would like to dismantle.

Success isn’t measured by what those around you think and it’s not measured by how much you’ve changed or accomplished in 365 days. It should be determined by the goals you’ve set for yourself however long ago and how close you are to achieving them or how quickly you did achieve them.

We, as humans, give up around the end of the year, using the holidays as an excuse to cheat on our diets and spend the last two months of every year doing things we wouldn’t ordinarily do because we’ll be “better” in the new year. If only we had that mentality at the end of each day, then we’d really be successful, myself included. But instead, we set ourselves up for disappointment and let ourselves be more lenient knowing that we have full intentions to be better, to do better, to eat better. Better, better, better. The word has lost it’s meaning.

2020 doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s another year, a measurement of time that we’ve socially constructed, a date to remind me how old I am, a number to write on my deposited checks, a year that doesn’t have any significance except what we’ve been told it should mean. A new decade, the youngest we’ll ever be, another chance to get it right.

I have goals, don’t get me wrong. But they’re not defined by the start of a new year or the end of an old one. They’re defined by my integrity, my ambition, my drive. And I’m not saying it’s wrong if you do confine your goals to a period of one time. Whatever helps motivate you is a win in my mind.

I guess what I’m trying to say is a lot can change in one year but it shouldn’t restrict your ambitions. I’ll leave it at that.

7 thoughts on “Panama – A Year Later – The Start of 2020

  1. Jeff Hotz says:

    Well its good to see you are doing well and glad to see a blog post as it seemed you dropped off the face of the earth for awhile. I had hoped you where going to make some awesome striper fishing videos when you left field trips but that did not happen though you did post some sweet pics of a few fish! no matter what you chose to do Jamie I believe you will be great at it and I think you should ask Robert if you could show up once in awhile and do a few shows with him would love to see you back out fishing with him and I am pretty sure he would have no problem with that as you guys are friends. So give him a shout would love to see you back in an episode every now and then I bet he would be down for it!!


    • James Lee Costa says:

      Thanks Jeff! I had mentioned before our striper season started that I wouldn’t be making videos. Because I work on the boat, I barely have time to eat/stay hydrated let alone whip out a camera and keep up with the action. I did a lot of videography work with my company though, you can find the videos on either Hogy Lures or Salty Cape on YouTube but I’m not in any of them. We’ll be doing a reunion trip for sure at some point this year 🙂


      • Jeff Hotz says:

        Well that would be awesome to see a reunion trip with you and Robert for sure I always enjoyed you being on the show. I wish you the best in everything you do and look forward to seeing that reunion trip!!


  2. Treadwayms says:

    I dunno about Robert in one post last year he dropped a pretty big bomb and people fired back and that post disappeared into post never land. But since then whatever happened changed Field Trips. On the flip side you have emerged as a confident and happy human being, I see it in your photos on Instagram. Your happy, personally if you want to prove something to yourself , go back to Los Buzos Panama and right the wrong that you feel inside ….


    • James Lee Costa says:

      I’m not sure what you’re referring to exactly but I do know being a social media personnel is difficult because you’re constantly in the spotlight and setting yourself up for criticism. That being said, I’m sure whatever Rob posted wasn’t ill intended and this is all a learning experience, especially when you’re sharing it with the public. Than you for your kind words! I’m sure Rob and I will do a reunion trip at some point but going back to Panama isn’t in the cards for me. I have nothing to prove, Panama just happened to be the place where I learned the most.


  3. Bernie V. says:

    Mahalo! Best blog to know I am still human and the world now knows that a once little caterpillar has left its cocoon and blossomed into a DRAGON! Much Aloha now go and burn it down!!!


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