Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life is Really Something Funny

Occasionally I glance back through older posts on Stranger. Usually I keep this walk through memory lane to the Palau posts, because I find them fascinating now that I've been away from Palau for nearly a year and have untangled a lot of the complicated emotions I had there. I rarely look at anything prior to Palau and I almost never read back over anything I wrote before Snuggie Texts, mostly because I can't stand the way I used to write.

It makes me wonder if I'll feel that way one day about what I wrote in 2014.

But today I happened to click on a pre-Palau post about a time that Daniel and I went with Anna Swayne and Ms. Emma to Moab so I could take Paul Cyclemon on his inaugural spin.

So much odd nostalgia hit me as I read through this post from over two years ago. My budding friendships with Daniel and Anna and Emma were pretty new at the time. I had known Daniel for only about six months and Anna and Emma for a few weeks.

We had gone to Moab together and had one of the most memorable weekends of my life, night hiking in Arches National Park and biking through the red rock.

I longed for those days just a bit as I read. I missed the feelings I had then and the friendships as they were. Simple and close and somehow not yet crowded with the realities of life. And then I saw one of the pictures I included at the end of that post. And it affected me so profoundly. Because, although I didn't explain it in the prior post, I know exactly what was going on this picture.

Daniel just happened to snap this shot, capturing one of the most memorable moments of my life. A moment when I found out information that was going to change my life forever.

I'm staring into my phone and smiling, dumbstruck, because just at this exact moment I received an email from someone named Megan who was letting me know that the Supreme Court of Palau was interested in me and wanted to talk more with me about the possibility of moving to Palau to work for them.

I think the reason it's so odd to look at this picture now is because I remember the moment so clearly. But today I interpret the moment through a much different lens. One that is colored by a year of Palau living, and some aftermath. 

I see that guy in that picture from over two years ago--disheveled hair and gleeful carefree joy emanating from his face at the thought that all his dreams were about to come true--and I think that life is really something funny.

As perspectives change and experiences age us, the same moments in hindsight can prompt such different emotions. And sometimes the memory of the emotions we felt when the moment actually happened seem so naive or simple or ironic when viewed through time. 

If I could reach through my monitor I might tell that guy that so much of the unexpected awaits him in the next two years. A failed Ironman. A dramatic venture to a land unknown. Heartache. Heartbreak. Things not going exactly as expected.

I could tell him that that gleeful feeling he has looks funny to me now. Because I know the joy he is expressing and feeling is over news that will lead to a life of some of the biggest struggles he's ever known. 

But I could also tell him that he's right in that moment to just feel joy. Because if he felt anything less, he might not jump into the opportunity. And that would be a shame. Because he really needs to know the venture to the land unknown. And the heartache. And the heartbreak. And the things not going exactly as expected. 

He needs to know those things because they are going to be exactly what it will take for him to experience unprecedented joy in the future.

Those will be the things that teach him about perseverance. And hope. And true compassion. And self-acceptance. And forgiveness of self and others. And that this world, although sometimes a scary place, can be pretty damn beautiful, in more ways than one.

So I won't reach through the monitor, even if I figure out a way. I'll let him be. And I'll let myself be today as I feel similar bouts of excitement and joy at the prospect of life taking unexpected and unfamiliar turns. Because whatever awaits, no matter how hard and ugly, is going to turn into beauty.

It has to. 

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. I love this post. It's always interesting when we go back and look at a moment in time that we once saw one way and that has taken on a whole new meaning through experience and maturity. I hope you can look back on Palau and be grateful for the struggle, because it made you the man you are today.

  2. This brought me to tears. Going into my senior year of high school I'm very nervous about the decisions I will soon be making that will shape my future. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with me and encouraging me to not focus the safe, secure path through life, but to do things that will be hard and frightening. I look forward to making friends and memories as abundant and enjoyable as yours, and being able to look back on my life with pride of what I accomplished.
    Twice up the barrel, once down the side.

    1. I applaud the wisdom beyond your years. Good for you, for not just flowing through life with your current peer group! Plenty of time in the coming year to do just that, but you know already: "Twice up the barrel, once down the side."

      Good For You.

  3. I'm entering a new season in my life (one that ended with a breakup with one of the most amazing guys I know), and this hits hard. I don't know what's around the corner. I'm so scared and lost because I don't even know what I'm going to do with my life and I need some (well, one) answer(s) soon. Like, by August. And I don't even know what to do, and I have past regrets for not trying something that I should have. But, what's done is done. Twice up the barrel, once down the side.

    And I've got tomorrow, and I know something will await. And I'll be naively excited about it. Because there is no other way I'd rather be.

    1. Well, now I want to know how it all turns out for you......Good luck!!!!

  4. I was going through some files this week and had a similar experience. I didn't have a photo of a life-changing phone call like yours, but it was interesting to look back on the person I was then and the person I am now. So many things have happened and changed, some good and some not so good, but I wouldn't change anything. Also related is this video I watched last week:

  5. Very deep post, so I hope you don't find this disrespectful, but I thought you'd want to know that my 10-year old son is currently meowing the theme to the A-Team... not sure if that was part of Daniel's repertoire or not :-).

    1. Honey, a reference to Meow that Tune could never be disrespectful.

  6. Oh, you, and your insights. Great post. Nothing that matters to me has ever come easily, so this post resonated with me. Listen, all the meshugas that comes with being alive-- pain, loneliness, confusion, general insanity-- it's all part of life's freaking rich tapestry. Right? RIGHT?! (and please tell me at least one of you goyim knows what meshugas is)

  7. I love it when Stranger feels like an episode from Lost where you go into your history and explain something or give it more detail so we understand you better today. THIS IS AS GOOD AS TV!

    Loved this post.

  8. This post is so so wonderful. And just what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

  9. This post hurts a bit. Its kinda like a "peggy Sue got Married". Would I change the giddiness I felt when I told my husband I would marry him almost 15 years ago? I sure could have avoided a lot of pain, heartache and depression at betrayal. But then I would be missing out on 5 of my greatest joys in life and they would have never called me mommy. this new adventure I am about to begin, new career after taking time out to raise 5 kiddos, moving back to Utah and moving on with life, now as a single this something I will look back on and compassionately cheer myself on? Is this really the beginning of something new that will be good? Your post hits raw nerves. Which, of course, makes it real.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this. It's a hard pill to swallow. But a real one and a really important one.