Chlorine

"I'm done" I stated one day, as adamantly as possible considering I was shivering.

My parents remained unfazed. So perhaps I had a record of being a tad bit dramatic.

The pool, the strange glow, the faint smell of bleach. Never could get out of there fast enough. Cold, blue lips, stunning locker rooms, pruney fingers. Hated it.
It's funny I've found myself there more times this year than I can count.

The florescent tinge it gives your skin. The motion of pushing yourself with the water instead of against it. The realization that it is completely existentially fraught to get the other side and it's not quite a matter of life or death at this particular instance.

In St. Louis, I think....wait, it was possibly the Quad Cities at that point of summer.... anyways... sometime in middle July I became obsessed with the concept of the existential fraughtness of practically everything. 

In the Fault In Our Stars by John Green (which you need to read now if you haven't) Augustus is showing Hazel Grace all his trophies he won playing basketball. He explains how one day he realized how existentially fraught free throws are.

Existentially fraught. Free throws. I woke up one day and I reached over and found some hotel stationary (that stuff is the ugliest paper I've ever seen) and scribbled in my erratic hand writing that very line.

In order for something to be existentially fraught it has to hold no lasting significance or meaning. As entertaining as they are, the Olympics are existentially fraught, along with bowling, mini golf, movies, technology, grades, those little robot vacuum cleaners and the list is practically endless.

Katie and I have been exploring that, (and talking about a lot of other things besides, I love that girl) making lists of things that aren't existentially fraught. So far all I can come up with is love, sacrifice and possibly adrenaline. I'd love to toss books and music on that list because while they aren't indestructible in terms of oblivion; if information in a book or a line in a song can change a persons life I'm inclined to think it's not for nothing.

In his book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, Donald Miller addresses stories.

We are all characters in our own stories. What makes our lives interesting is the overcoming of conflict. Wanting something meaningful and struggling to achieve it.
 No one wants to watch a movie about a character who went to work, watched TV, fed his cat, and went grocery shopping once a week.

Myself, I'm not such a good character. I stick to what I know. Don't like chances. Know that I can reach something if I really want to, but sometimes I allow that knowledge to be enough for me. So maybe I quit swimming laps because I found it a waste of time, but I didn't replace that with something meaningful. I dream and read and sleep too much when I should be working harder towards goals and helping people and making a difference. I should change that.

Just some thoughts. 

11 comments:

  1. i really, really liked this post. plus that TFiOS reference makes me like this post 10x more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TFiOS changed my life. Thanks Jana.

      Delete
  2. Maybe we should add empathy to the list.

    And here is a question: at what point does love stop being an emotion and start being an action, a way of life, a behavior that comes naturally? If I think of it that way, I realize I'm not so good at love. But, like all existentially significant pursuits, the effort until it becomes natural is worth it.

    God I love you Jillian.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think love starts to become an action at the very moment we see another person as more significant than ourselves. When we're willing to give up what we want to make them happy. I think that's love as a verb.

      God I love you Kates.

      Delete
  3. Honestly, I think joy and feelings of pleasure, though fleeting and ephemeral, provide reasons to do things, very much in the likeness of a carrot tempting a cart-pulling donkey on. Yeah, we can do things with a void for an engine but when we get to our destination or arrive at a goal on our progression to a destination, we can't appreciate our work and where we are as it only took a lot of mindless motions to achieve. Often I feel like I'm in some 90s game where you do a ton of crap for a bucket of crap that you can trade for something useful, but not useful to you anymore and certainly not in the real world. But these motivations should only be to help you achieve and appreciate great things, not to be what is sought after alone. Chasing the motivations will take you on a journey and teach you wonderful things, though you must decide how much you learn, but leave you in a pretty terrible place. Pain can do the same thing and I think I'd prefer that... but pain has to come from somewhere. And more often than not, I can write better with pain than emptiness for a friend (for example, this comment would have been composed if I'd had more emotional pain and less of the physical). Pardon for the length.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never worry about length. I am a reader after all.

      I think you have a point, which is why some of the best writers were the most emotional disturbed.
      Pain can either make people crumble or force them to step up to the plate and deal with things that they didn't want to think about.

      Just know that I can't live a life trapped in one of those 90s games.

      Delete
  4. I don't mind swimming laps unless I am being told to do a bunch. In other words, I swim about two feet and then I'm done. ;)
    I joined a swim team this summer and really didn't like it. I had a coach that wasn't very good. And I can't stand the way my skin feels after it's been dunked in chlorine. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it this incredibly awful feeling that never completely goes away even after a shower?
      Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
    2. Yes! I hate that! And my hair has been straw-like after almost every shower ever since...And I stopped swim team a month or two ago. It's getting better, though. (Thankfully!) :) Thanks for following my blog!

      Delete
  5. see, THIS is what my parents need to understand. because they won't let me be "done." and i've even used TFIOS references like this one.

    seriously, though, i freaking love this post. you are the epitome of creativity. and i feel like we're best friends already.

    ReplyDelete

"Sometimes the world seems like a big hole. You spend all your life shouting down it and all you hear are echoes of some idiot yelling nonsense down a hole"
_Adam Duritz

I love hearing things that aren't my own pathetic echoes.