I hope that one day you care enough about something to light yourself on fire.

I passed a student in the hallway today who had told me in class that she didn’t understand the point of protesting. Specifically, she didn’t understand why a person would light himself on fire to protest napalm.

And for the longest time (up until today), I was kind of upset. A little annoyed. A little sad.

As I passed her, I realized why. I thought that if I was around to see her graduate high school that would be my wish to her: I hope that one day you care enough about something to light yourself on fire.

This comes on the heels of a week where I was told that sometimes I will have to make sacrifices for my work.

I have never been so offended in my life. Obviously, this came from someone who does not know me or what I have been doing since I graduated from college. But either way, it is still a very inappropriate comment.

I hardly lit myself on fire.

But I did give the best of what I had. I gave energy when I knew I would have the most of it–my early twenties. I gave my education and intelligence when both were freshest–right after college and during graduate school. And I gave my devotion before I could become completely jaded.

Worst of all, I gave as I was taught to give. From the best of what I have. Not from the leftovers.

No, I never lit myself on fire. But I definitely hurt myself. I definitely sacrificed. And at the end of the day, I am quite pleased with what I have done. I am happy with the legacy I think I have created.

But mostly, I’m proud of myself for knowing what was important to me—what my “issue” in this world is—and for giving until I could quite literally give no more.

what motivates me to run

I stopped after work today to buy Epsom salts and Icy/Hot compresses. After soaking my legs in a hot tub of the “salty” water, I applied the strips of the Icy/Hot to my legs–along the area where the awesomely useful yet ridiculously painful IT bad exists.

For a brief moment, I thought, why?

Then, I sat down to catch up on news and came across an article in one of the running blogs I read about how to remain motivated to run.

Running sucks.

It really does.

In order for me to run and to continue to improve, I have to stretch, foam roll and heat/ice compress for at least an hour day. I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that my Friday nights (the night before my long runs on Saturday mornings) are going to be a continuous marathon of stretching, rolling and compressing until November (my first half marathon).

This article went through ways to motivate yourself to get off the couch and to run several times a week. And I had to laugh. At this point, my bigger problem is telling myself that I cannot run.

I had to talk myself out of running hills this afternoon with the threat that I would possibly destroy any chance I would have of completing my 7-mile run on Saturday.

So where does this come from?

Two places, I realized.

First, running is the only thing that I do that is 100% about me. It’s also mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually the healthiest thing I do for myself. I stopped getting sick. My stress levels are way down, and I’m overall happier. Everything I do to run—including the prep work—requires no thought. And for someone who is constantly thinking, that’s such an awesome break. I even think about why not sit on the couch or read a book. But honestly, I don’t focus on those things. When I run, I have no choice but to clear my mind. Clear it or get hurt is what I tell myself.

And the second thing is that I’m ridiculously competitive–with myself. I love watching my split times. I love pushing myself farther. I’m not even that good, and I love it.

best friends

On Saturday night, I get a phone call asking if I want to go out. My one question is…”do I have to wear shoes?” Now, these are new friends, and I could literally feel the WTF coming through the phone.

Heels? 

No. Like shoes at all. I’m out now, and I’ll meet up with you, but I’m in a hoodie and flip-flops.

Laughter. Laughter. (I really do like these guys, by the way.)

Then, last night, the text message says “I’m downstairs but make sure you’re wearing a jacket and shoes.”

And I completely cracked up because I realized that to really be my friend, you’d have to know that I hate shoes and I’m almost always in a tank top.

That’s not to say that the first friends will never get there. They will, that I am sure of, but it was just funny to compare.

the most important thing

A year ago today, I sent myself an email. It was my response to a question asked of me. The question was “what’s the most important thing?”

I never finished my response.

And I was reminded today that at this point last year, I was struggling. Like seriously struggling. With everything. Purpose. Meaning. Friendships. Work. There was something seriously wrong, and I knew there was something wrong, but I couldn’t figure it out.

Over the several months that followed that question, I worked through it. In kind of a tortured way. The friend who asked the question said that it was going to be the summer of my malcontent. And it was. It truly was. Forward looking pushed me through it, but it was not easy.

And then just as things settled down—I finished the draft of a book, I found work, I fixed some friendships—the one who asked the question left. Like really left. Out of the country.

Last Friday, I knew that I would see him today, and I’ve been so excited that I could hardly stand it. And then, this morning, I saw the email. With the question. And I realized that over the past six months, I have found the answer.

Peace.

That’s it. Simple as that. I initially wanted to say happiness. Then, joy. But it’s not that at all. Because in all truth, some shitty things have happened in the past six months. But they have not ruined me. It’s like everything swirls around me. And I remain.

And for one of the first times in my life, I can say that I truly have joy within me.

And I am so deeply grateful. I know that it comes from within, and I know that I have worked hard to attain it. But it is very rare in life—at least in mine—that I have had someone that I could quite literally say anything to.

And from the depths of all that is good and happy and peace-filled within me, the best I can do is say, “thank you.”