chicago/it doesn’t take much to convince me

What’s good, 2am? We’ve been seeing a lot more of each other lately, but I’m not mad.

I probably shouldn’t be advertising this, but if you want me to do something (within reason), all you have to do is word it to me as if it will be the adventure of my life, and I’ll probably say yes.

I’ll say yes right away with enthusiasm, and I won’t change my mind.

(See, parents? I can commit to things!)

This happened about a month ago when someone I’ve known longer than I’ve been dyeing my hair convinced me to go to Chicago to do a 12-mile obstacle course for his birthday. I hadn’t seen this friend since I was a teenager, but something told me that if I didn’t do this, I’d have missed out on a life-changing experience.

Everyone I know had the same reaction when I told them what I was doing: “Uh, you’re doing what now? Uh, good luck with that.” For the understatement of the year, I’m not much of a runner, let alone a traverser of obstacles. I’ve also never been to Chicago, and I don’t know anyone there except for this friend I hadn’t seen in years.

Well, I did it. And now that I’m sore, bruised, and smiling back in Austin, I’m still full of light after this weekend. I still feel that surreal glow and the sensation of “did all of that even happen?? What is my life?”

Not that I need to define the sensation, but all I feel is the high of challenging myself and finishing something that terrified me coupled with the realization that I can pick up with someone I haven’t seen for over half a decade as if we’d never stopped talking.

I’ve always been told that when you’ve had an intimate relationship with suffering, the beautiful moments in life seem that much more pronounced. Most of the time when people tell me this, I’m in the midst of the “suffering” bit, and digesting those words feels like swallowing steak knives.

So, I need to remember to pause and be grateful when I’m in the midst of happiness. 

One of my favorite quotes is from Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite authors (yeah, some of what he writes is poppy, but I adore him, so ~suck it~ I guess)

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

Murakami isn’t the first to say this, but this is my favorite variation, and the words resonate with me most in this order.

Sometimes, I catch myself choosing to suffer. You might know this same kind of suffering, because there’s nothing special about it: You start reflecting on bad experiences, and before you know it, you’re picking at all of the scabs that are still healing in your life. The older you get, the more it becomes clear that there’s nobody to smack your hand away except your own sad sack self.

I catch myself choosing to suffer, and then I remember that my life is full of positive experiences. I can go back to this and remember that I spent more than an entire weekend in a new city laughing and smiling and opening up rather than shutting out.

It’s nice, for a change, to feel the good kind of restlessness that leads me to find inspiration in small things. Endless thoughts and ideas are running through my head after this weekend, and although I haven’t processed everything I’m feeling, I’m so grateful I said yes to something that initially scared me so much I almost got sick on the train.

 

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