There is something calming about water in mass quantities. The calm comes in the way it gently glides across the shore, softly soothing your heart back to its equilibrium. The calm comes in the way it curls and crashes in thunderous formations, reminding that something is more powerful than whatever is battling in your mind that day. This calming water demands your reverent respect, for it can instill terror during a storm and restore peace with its softly rippling surface. And being fully aware of this beauty, I am the idiot who chose to move as far from bodies of water as a person in the continental U.S. could possibly get.
Why is any of this relevant? Well, for those of you who have ever made a ridiculous decision that took you away from things you love most, this is just a small example of how incredibly insane we as humans can sometimes be. I will allow, for this analogy, my own brain to be exhibit A:
I absolutely love being outside. I love hiking. I love water (just to clarify incase you didn’t gather that from my introduction). I love my family and friends. I love being joyful. I absolutely hate being cold. Oh, I have an idea! Let’s move to the most landlocked, flat as a pancake state in the country with a winter that makes my spirit feel likes its dying and then get two jobs that require I work 60-70 hours a week, thereby eliminating any free time in which to keep in in touch with said family and friends. And then once we’ve done all this, just sit back and wait expectantly for that joy to start flowin’ right on in.
Ok, now this is not a massive pity party (just a small one with a little humor), but let’s be honest for a second. People are legitimately insane. We make rash decisions. We know what is good for us and choose the 180° opposite. We laugh when we are angry and cry when overcome by joy (oh, is that one just me?). We tend to react to our own discomfort by hurting or pushing away those who love us most. We start battles we are bound to lose. We love deeply knowing that through death or the nature of life we are going to be the one leaving or left. And with all of this insanity warring in ourselves and in every human being we surround ourselves with, how the heck do we not get a little discouraged sometimes?
So as I found myself discouraged in the dead of winter away from some of my favorite people, reminded of how absolutely insane I was for choosing to sacrifice a million things I love in exchange for the unknown, I made yet another rash decision (yay for the learning process!). I bought a plane ticket to Seattle to visit an aunt who I have always esteemed to be my kindred spirit but have never had a dot in time to test out this hypothesis.
Fast forward to the present, day three in my time in Washington, and I can report that the past few days of belly laughter, marveling at nature, resting side-by-side with a good book, and talking for 12 hours straight have confirmed my hypothesis. I have also confirmed that we both fall into the insane human category. Jamie is insane because she quit her job, sold her car, and moved to small-town Washington to do an 8-month spiritual retreat of solitude. I’m insane because, well, we’ve already discussed this in the preceding paragraphs. But though we are both admittedly crazy people, we can also attest to the fact that my rash decision, her illogical (to some) one, were not wasted. Sure, they resulted in some hard stuff that is difficult to work through. But we’ve gained a life lesson or two and will never have to live with a basket of “what ifs?”
So in light of some of the conversations us two kindred spirits have delved into, I have another hypothesis I want to propose, though this one I have not yet tested. I think that, possibly, the things that make all human beings insane (loving recklessly, rash decision-making, allowing ourselves to be in situations that hurt like hell) are necessary for us to ever reach, or at least recognize, the spaces that bring us the goodness of joy and hope. Because the marvelously beautiful side of our insanity is in the way we as people can somehow manage to seek joy, love well, laugh from our gut, maintain some sense of hope, take a few risks, all the while knowing we are bound to mess up or face a little (or lot of) discouragement along the way.
The insanity of choosing Kansas City maybe resulted in my hardest year yet, but the crazy amount of self-discovery and confidence and random friendships that came from it made it well worth all the chaos. Pretty soon here I have to make another big batch of decisions that will indefinitely altar life yet again, but I sure hope that I can continue to embrace the fact that I am (and you are) insane, because what the heck would life even be like if we always played it safe? And when someone asks (yet again) what on earth I am doing, I can just smirk and say, “What do you expect? I’m insane.”