I moved to Madison three years ago. We were moving for my wife. She was a resident at UW Health and rocking out on the start of an awesome career. I was ready for whatever the next few years would bring, and had the feeling everything was only going up.
I was right. And I was also incredibly, shockingly, hat-off-the-head-and-over-the-heart wrong at the same time.
As I have found to be a common theme, both to life, and this blog. There is always SO much more about to happen than I could possibly expect.
It’s been three years of driving, karate, moving a dojo, new faces, weddings, funerals, speeding tickets (I-94 is SUPER straight for REALLY long periods of time, ok?), holidays, more karate, more driving, traveling, tournaments, friends, early mornings, late night, early mornings FOLLOWING late nights, and writing. Which sounds like the break from all of those other thing’s but really isn’t.
It’s been a marriage that has at the same time gotten stronger and more distant, friendships that have been made and a few that have slipped into slumber. It’s been mistakes, apologies, fights, and some late night wandering gesticulating at streetlights and swearing at raccoons.
Of which Madison has a surprising number, and they are FEARLESS.
It’s been cold silences with the lake gently creaking. It’s been warm coffee on rainy days. It’s been State Street packed with hundreds and music and food and drink and love at every corner.
It’s been sickness and health.
It’s been great days and some of the worst days.
It’s been a microcosm of a life that, instead of dying and moving on, we’re just moving on from.
I’m greater for my time in Madison. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve made friendships and relationships that are special. And I’ve had a heck of a lot of good beer.
A theme of this blog over the past is for me to list all the good things that have happened in a set period of time, and that’s cool and makes me feel good and is also incredibly false. Y’know, like the bit a few paragraphs up.
Not as in “I’m lying!” But as in, “I’m glossing over literally everything that might be construed as a possible negative.”
So…in a way…. “I’m lying!”
There was an article I read recently, that a prevailing issue in mental health has been that of looking on social media and seeing how very and perfect everyone is, and feeling as though you could never compare.
I have realized that creating a list of accomplishments is a way to alienate, to create friction in readers. But the truth is these past three years have been HARD. There have been incredible, pure periods of happiness and freedom, but there have been hundreds and hundreds of hours of boredom, stress, doubt and more than a bit of terror.
It’s been a challenge is every way that I can describe the word. I’ve made mistakes verbally, physically, and emotionally. I’ve had the most inspirational speeches in the halls of my own mind and when I’ve released them into the world, they just squat on the ground like an ungainly chicken staring at everyone glassy-eyed.
I’ve failed. Over and over. As a competitor, as a teacher, as a husband, and as a human.
And, I think that’s life. From a weird, skewed, strange point of view. I have the best of intentions and, at best, a mediocre way of expressing those intentions, distilled through my frustration and the rest of the world being ~gestures broadly~ itself , sometimes they arrive a little tarnished.
So, here’s to being tarnished. To not being perfect. To not creating this seemingly perfect universe to compete with all the other false perfects out there.
Here’s to messing up, to getting angry, to getting speeding tickets and to terrifyingly fearless raccoons.
And here’s to one more thing…
About 17,000 years ago I was a sophomore in college and I had a writing professor who said something that has stuck with me in the resulting eons.
Good writing is about making a story punch. If there’s sadness, horror, or joy. Make it hit hard. You don’t have the time to do anything else.
I think we could replace “writing” with “life” and we’d all be the better for it. Madison, you’ve hit hard. Now it’s onto the next round.