Rivers till I reach you

Last Sunday, I went to Andy’s to get me some custard, and approximately ten seconds into me eating my BootDaddy Concrete, my stomach started to growl. I went from happy to sad as I started to reconsider whether going to Andy’s was a good decision, because despite the fact that it was yummy, it also made me feel yucky.

Just this year, in one of my articles, I advised y’all to stop doing things that make you feel bad, such as eating dairy if you’re lactose intolerant like me, or using your phone all day if it gives you headaches, and at this moment, I was debating whether or not I should’ve listened to that advice.

But that advice had a major flaw, too—it simply ignored the good that comes from some of the things that also bring us pain.
As I sat there, eating my ice cream on this bench, I thought about a story from the book “The Bell Jar” about a woman sitting in the crotch of a fig tree staring at all the different figs that branched out in front of her.

It was a metaphor—each fig represented different paths her life could take. Instead of choosing one of the figs, and moving on with her life, she deliberated which fig was the best one to choose. As she waited, all the figs shriveled up and dropped to the ground at her feet, and she was unable to experience anything.

I know I’m looking really deep into an intolerance of dairy, but this truth extends far beyond just that, just like I did with my yearbooks, or with movies or songs or everything else I wrote about this year. For most of my life, I have sat inside my own bubble watching life unfold around me, sitting at the bottom of a fig tree, unwilling to decide which of the figs I would choose, because of the fact that choosing one of the figs would mean losing all of the rest.

A couple weeks ago, I was reading the book, “Looking For Alaska,” when I came across this quote at the end that hadn’t resonated with me until my third time reading it through.

The main character states: “When adults say, ‘Teenagers think they are invincible’ with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

After I wrote my first article, “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before,” I kept trying to remind myself that the decisions I will regret the most would be the ones that I chose not to make, and that the suffering that I could experience would also fail to truly bring me down. But for a little bit, I convinced myself that I wasn’t invincible, and every time something bad happened or seemed like it could happen, I ran away from the idea of making my life like a movie, and ran back to my bubble where everything was painless but pointless.

At a certain point this year, as I continued to step further and further away from my bubble, and decided to be proactive and unreluctantly pluck different figs off of the branches of my life, all of the emotion that I had bottled up in the past culminated in my “wtf I’m almost done with high school” existential crisis where I had found myself sitting in my car crying outside my house with emo music blasting. If you haven’t experienced something like this already, you probably will soon too.

A year from now, we will all be gone, and our friends will move away (cue the song “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart), and I will be in Colorado and my parents will be in California, and all of you will be somewhere else too.

Instead of running away from the pain I experienced sitting in my car that night, I decided to embrace it, allowing my emotions to bring about what could’ve been the climax of the movie that was this past year. This, I figured was a million times better compared to resorting back to an endless stream of nothingness that would’ve haunted me with regret just as it had in the past.

And so, as I thought about all of these things while sitting and watching my ice cream melt right in front of my face, I decided to just start eating it, and embrace the pain that it brought me later that night in my bathroom. I decided that for the rest of my life, I would try to just do things, and recognize that while not all of my decisions will be the right ones, I am invincible and through tragedy and triumph, my meaningful life will ultimately bring me closer to the earth.

The best part about now is that there’s another one tomorrow. Don’t let anybody, including yourself, tell you that you are not invincible. Live it up in each moment but recognize that endlessly blocking out the good will block out the bad too—the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. All of our lives can be movies if we just let go of this fear and allow ourselves to simply open up, choose our own figs, and experience life as it comes to us.

Peace out y’all. It’s been real.