I cried on the plane ride. It was brief but it happened. I was returning to Atlanta, GA, a place that I hadn’t been in almost 2 years. This is a place that I hoped I never had to return to against my own will and only for a visit, never extended. On July 26, 2013, I boarded a Delta Airlines plane and flew first class halfway across the world to Asia with a little more than $2000USD and my only expectation being change & growth. My “home” never felt like home and I had been eager to leave since before I got my drivers license. I never had the desire to explore my own hometown on my own merit, but I always had the desire to explore places that would expand my worldview in a way that Atlanta and America couldn’t. I always knew that I wanted more than where I was at. I always knew that I wouldn’t become the best me if I didn’t leave my comfort zone that was never really comfortable. The journey out of America had many prerequisites, but now I’ll focus on the present and future.
It’s been a little over a week since I’ve been back in my hometown and it’s been nearly 4 months since I’ve returned to America. I first landed in LA and was unsure of whether or not I should continue with a travelers mindset & just lightly pass through or try to embrace LA as a temporary home, as I did Bangkok. Life allowed me to fall somewhere in between the two lifestyles and I grew to love the city in a way I didn’t expect to. It was bittersweet to leave. Nonetheless, I understand my own humanly limitations enough to embrace the unknown to make the best out of situations. I do this as a way to combat any negative viewpoints that can arise from passing judgement. I’m learning to get better at this. Something I’ve learned during this journey, especially while dealing with all of those aforementioned prerequisites.
Now, I’m laying on my bedroom floor in my grandmother’s house with postcards to send to friends in different time zones around the world to my left and my latest read to my right — Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”. A well timed and appropriate recommendation from a new friend I’ve made along my journey. This memoir is relevant in so many ways and has given me even more clarity on everything, essentially the reason why I choose — yes, choose — to live.
Murakami is a devoted runner. For some, he might seem to be an extremist in his habits. He’ll operate like a machine and push his mind to a subconscious state to achieve his own personal ideals. It’s more than fitness. It’s more than a competitive edge. He admits that there are times when he doesn’t want to run. There have been marathons that he hasn’t enjoyed. There have been times when he’s felt defeated. Yet, he always reminds himself as to why he chooses to run. He wants to be the best him and through that mindset, he genuinely appreciates every bit of what he experiences, specifically as a runner.
I started reading this novel on Saturday. I’ve been running everyday since I began. Yes, fitness is important to me but I metaphorically equate Murakami’s passion for running to my life. I ran across the world to a foreign country to push myself to achieve more. Many people didn’t get it. I am like Murakami, I suppose. An extremist. I ran, somewhat hoping the run to become easier. How foolish. Life is a marathon. Cliche but true. Also, blantantly stated, shit gets real — often. That doesn’t mean that I don’t and didn’t enjoy the run. Sometimes the run feels like a hike, a jog, a climb, or a stroll. We run, or in other words, we live because we want to be the best we can be. We go on this journey to find another journey to stumble upon another to seek another to join another continuously. It might become easier for a while but there’s always more to push through. There will be moments where we feel defeated. I felt defeated by LA when the world peeled me away from such an appealing city only to make me return to the same plot I left with a zealous farewell.
I realize now, there is no farewell. There is no end until we die. Things resurface, attempt to haunt us, distract us, steal our joy, and all we can do is live to be the best we can no matter our circumstances. We give it our all and fight being a victim.
This is what I talk about when I talk about living.