It knocks the wind out of me sometimes to listen and watch people describe life in Easter colors. Lives that rock gently on ups and downs and abnormals; lives that keep on keepin’ on. Lives that bounce between the same non-problems with ease and excessive complaint. Lives with such easy solutions that no one thinks to reach up and grab.
What the hell? Life isn’t like that at all. Sweat through a race, change an addictive habbit, heal from trauma, lose family, lose yourself, learn a new skill, mend a painful relationship. I’m not convinced that the specifics are what matter: life is hard, and those that say otherwise have been given an enviable gift.
Life is not the other extreme, a soap opera, but life is saturated in emotion. In nuance. In persuasion, conviction, genetics, circumstance, fear, manipulation, expectation. The world doesn’t wind on that spindle.
There are times I want to shake shoulders because it enrages me to hear the Jeremiah 29:11 argument: don’t worry, God has a plan to prosper you to give you a hope and a future. I could not count the number of times I’ve been told that, and I cannot emphasize the degree that I think it’s taken out of context.
But don’t worry, it’s all easter eggs.
Life isn’t gentle. It isn’t painless. It isn’t laid out. How many people do we truly confide in? To how many souls do we honestly disclose the secrets and events in our lives. Studies show that it is one to two. One to two people. I look at my own life and see the holes where people I’ve trusted have fallen out. Of course it’s disgusting. Of course it shouldn’t be talked about.
I’m done whitewashing in pastels. We swallow and purge and binge and compact and hide.
My point is simple: real life is hard, and it demands holding the reigns. As a very appropriate and simplified anecdote, I paced at the Bemidji Blue Ox Half Marathon this weekend for the 2:30 finishers. The people who crossed the line with me fought for it with tears, with sweat, with appetite. They didn’t know if they even could, or how they could, but they had dreamed.
If you are living a life with comfort and convenience, you are living the life of a million.
But it isn’t real.
It certainly isn’t all that’s out there. People cry on curbs, write letters and burn them, pound on doors, storm out of rooms, sign documents they regret, sit handcuffed, sit with regret, sit awake at night with thoughts. They also feel tears of gratitude slip out of eye corners, feel fullness and pride, swell with happiness, rest in perfect comfort of another, trust in a thing, pray with earnestness. I propose to you that life is vibrant.
I worry I’ve lost my voice; those that understand me are already my choir. Those that don’t agree from the roots of my argument can easily pocket my ideas for false conversation later. But I have grown tired of compromising in order to be understood.
The man that I crossed the finish line with, Josh, was at his emotional, physical end. He was wincing with pain and tempted to quit with every step, and he still had literally thousands of steps in front of him. He stayed with the nitty gritty. He dealt with the saturation of hurt.
Life sometimes bleeds at the surface. It sometimes weeps in the dirt. Sometimes it outlaughs the sunshine. Live in the color. And don’t lie about what color it is.
That’s my goal, my finish line worth striving for.