What Keeps You Going?

There’s this secret about Life that nobody really wants to talk about.

The Grind.

Life can be great sometimes, sure: We’ve all Instagrammed a beautiful sunset here and there. And two weeks a year, we get to go on a vacation from our jobs and try to unplug and fly somewhere far away to pay a lot of money to sit on a beach and try our best to finish the last 100 pages of that newest bestseller that everyone is talking about.

But that’s not real life.

Real life is the day in, day out. The lights go on and off and on, we commute to work to sit at computers, we read articles about the newest thing that’s supposed to either give us cancer or save us from it, and on and on and on. It’s exhausting, all this nothing.

What’s it all for? You ever ask yourself that? What is it that makes you not just throw it all away and run off into the woods to live with wolves (besides, you know, your crippling wolf allergy)? Is it a person you love? A goal you once set? A deathbed promise? A certain number of zeroes in your bank account? Revenge? What‘s worth the bother of constantly keeping the kitchen counters clean? What drives your struggle to push the unimaginable terror of the daily banal back into the dark?

What keeps you going?

So, because I’m insane and unbelievably busy, I have been getting up at 530am to work out. It is stupid and dumb and I am a crazy person (which should come as a surprise to exactly no one).

I drive my Jeep with the top down, and I live on a street lined with pine trees. Pine trees are fairly rare in Los Angeles, where I live— but are common back in Michigan, where I grew up.

LA is dirty. It’s hot and dusty. It can be weird at times. Sure, it can be great — but often it’s a very lonely and brutal place. And it doesn’t really matter if you live in LA or not: Life in general can be a very lonely and brutal place. Put another way by someone better at words than me, “Life’ll kill ya.”

But.

There is this moment every morning, before the sun rises and the bright colors of the day have fully shaken awake and assembled themselves, where I find myself driving my Jeep in this dusty desert town maybe a little too fast down this one narrow street which is somehow impossibly lined with beautiful lush towering pines and the early wet mist of the morning sticks to my hair and a rich earthy smell of peat fills my nose and memories of Michigan swim up fresh in my mind and all at once it is like Mother Nature herself is breathing her pure cold liquid essence into my lungs and something in my chest expands and time slows and suddenly nothing else exists in all the world but the low roar of cool wind whipping across my face through my hair my car and out up up up into the dark green of the hushed pines blurring past overhead and I think to myself remember this when you are eating dinner alone, remember this when you want to see her again and know you never will, remember this when Despair enrobed in her oily cloak of liquid black slithers her way up underneath the door of your bedroom in those desperate sleepless hours of early morning darkness watching with her gummy pale eyes full of glee while you frantically twist yourself up in blankets and bedsheets; remember this moment, these things, with clarity: the air, the earth, the pines, the memories of home — and realize that moments like this surround you every day. Even though Life can be lonely and sad and brutal eventually makes fools of us all, Life has secretly gifted you an unthinkable kindness: It has conspired to arrange all the stars and planets and laws of the universe over countless ages and eons just so for the one single sole purpose of making sure this specific and beautiful fleeting moment was perfectly created for you. All of that time, that energy, those years; an unimaginable, unbelievable, extraordinary path of countless things had to come together as one to produce this exact moment so that you, and only you, could experience it: For all its huffing and puffing, its brutality and sadness, that is what Life truly thinks of you. That is how important you are to the universe.

And that’s what keeps me going.