It’s a wonderful, wonderful life (ode to Sarah)

Read Sober Psychonaut disclaimer for people in sobriety exploring psychedelic medicine

So I was sitting at Poza Blanca Lodge having a lovely meal and journaling, enjoying the late-afternoon sun going down and digging the background music, a wide variety of songs that conjured happy feelings, like “Love is in the Air” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

Suddenly, a familiar synethesized orchestra began to play, then the plunky plunk, islandy-sounding lead-in to a song that took me instantly back to 1987 when the song “It’s a wonderful, wonderful life” by British artist Black first came out. I spent a London semester abroad during the days of New Order and British New Wave bands. We listened to songs like this one day and night at our hostel in Pembridge Square, the same place where we pressed our noses up against the front dining room windows to get a glimpse of Lady Di dropping the little princes off next door at the Wetherby School every morning.

I hadn’t heard the song in ages.

Who plays this song in Costa Rica? On a playlist of otherwise ordinary songs? It seemed so out of place and immediately got my attention.

The song was haunting and melancholy and happy all at once, as Black crooned, standing out there out on his own again, up straight in the sunshine, needing a friend, not wanting to be alone.

Now it was speaking to me in the mountains of Costa Rica as if my friend Sarah were still here. She died in 2014 of the craziest thing: colorectal cancer.


Now ask me if messages from the Universe aren’t for real given that I canceled three colorectal screenings last year and I’m sitting around writing about life, death, depression and the like.

Black was crooning, as if Sarah was channeling right through him, “It’s a wonderful, wonderful life.”

I got chills, then tears in my eyes.

I still call her my sweet Sarah angel. I mean who loses a friend to colorectal cancer in their 40s? It’s so fucked up.

Anyway, I vowed to get in touch with my doctor about that damn test again. The message was not lost on me.

In case I missed it the first time

​Then, my last night in Manuel Antonio I was sitting with my long-time friend and first-time travel buddy, Richele, at Raffael’s Terrazas looking out over the Pacific Ocean, which was bathed in golden sunlight. Richele was queuing up a song for one of our jungle videos.

“Wait, do you know what song that is? Oh my God.” She had picked a remake of “It’s a wonderful, wonderful life,” and I was momentarily dazed, like the message was coming through again.

Two weeks of “integration” after my last ketamine for depression therapy session and many moments in Costa Rica of feeling Good. Like myself, like a younger, happier, freer version of myself. One that’s connected to Life and Grateful to get up in the morning and Awed by things like pink-orange sunsets and magnificent ocean waves and vast beaches and fascinating animals and interesting people.

And here was that song again, chosen at random and she had no idea what it meant to me. But I knew Sarah had spoken⏤twice. From wherever she is, she had a point to make, multiple points to make perhaps.

And I got the message.


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