There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. -Oscar Wilde
Today's post has pictures from Percy Priest Lake in Tennesse. We went to a pavilion party, and it was an absolutely lovely day filled with friends and sneakily spicy authentic Mexican food and a sunset to die for.
But lately my thoughts have been lingering on a topic I'd like to flesh out, so I'm going to do that here, too.
There's an ideal in today's culture of what it means to be on a grand adventure, and it's really appealing.
The fresh breath of newness and the unknown, the promise of seeing things we've never seen and doing things we've never done - just the idea sparks our hopes for a bright future full of possibilities and greener grasses, and we're suddenly willing to leave everything we know in favor of this new promise...
But once we actually begin the journey (if we make it that far), the bittersweet consequences that seemed so sacrificable before begin to root themselves deeper in our hearts. Alarms go off in our heads, warning us of potential dangers and reasons upon reasons why we should not continue forward.
Leaving behind places you value, people you love, possible futures you may never see, is very, very hard. We're just afraid, afraid of the pain of failure or separation, of the loss of security and the closing of a chapter in our lives.
It's tempting to simply wave the white flag and stick to what's safer and more known. We start to think that maybe adventure isn't all it's cracked up to be.
And it's not. It's portrayed to us as something challenging but not crushing, something tiring but not impossible (probably because we're not actually doing it, we're just watching someone else do it), something where the good guy always wins and none of the main characters die (except maybe the villain).
In real life, you don't know what's going to happen. If you leave, you may not ever come back. If a season of your life comes to a close, it probably won't ever open again. Change is hard, and the price it demands is your present life in exchange for your future one.
Still, it may be that this armada of red flags is just the child in us reacting to the newness of something unfamiliar. Until recently I was always baffled by fit, active people who talked about "feeling the burn" as though it were a good thing.
I wondered if maybe their burn wasn't as agonizing and defeating as mine. Were they unaware of the extent of my misery as I lost my breath and cramped my sides in an attempt to keep up?
As I've become more active myself, though, I've realized that most sensations - even pain - are temporary. They will fade with time and healing, and will generally end in rewards, giving me a healthier body and a broader understanding of the physical experience of life.
The same goes in other areas of life, and while I don't necessarily walk head-long into painful situations, I also don't fear them as much. I try to weigh the potential benefits versus the potential hardships of a situation and make my decision from there.
If there are real gains to be made and real accomplishments to be conquered, then that painful, messy, vulnerable choice might be the best one to make.
I'm sure your parents told you at some point in life when everything felt at its worst that you were experiencing something called "growing pains." And I think that's what we face while tackling a grand adventure - pain and sacrifices that grow us up.
I'm calling those "adventure pains," and I'm accepting them as part of the territory of life. I think there is real value in the full spectrum of experiences, so when I feel upset, angry, or defeated, I'll just go ahead and feel it. When I feel joyful, proud, or sincere, I'll feel that too.
I'll let them grow me up, recognizing that they are temporary and so are not to be used as the basis for my decision-making, just something to learn from. So, here's to the adventure in its entirety, pains and joys and all.