Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Peru: Tough Reflections

People say they like to hike because they get in touch with nature and themselves. I don't like to hike mostly because I already feel in touch with myself. Nature is cool, but it's everywhere. No need to make it arduous. I dunno. I often get bored.

But then, over some oven fried potato crisps, I found myself asking Puhg what he thought about when we were quietly making our way up the Inca Trail. He had thought about mountains and history and civilization. I asked myself, what had I thought about anyway?

I had thought, "I hate myself," which is baffling to admit. But I had. Especially in the last half hour of the most difficult leg when my body was disintegrating into fatigue and sweat. I wasn't happy and I had flown to another country and dropped stacks in attempt to be. But almost as soon as I had admitted, "I hate myself," I had countered, "I don't want to be a person who hates herself." I couldn't believe it was me thinking that thought. That's a thing other people say. I've been hard on myself or guilty, but I've always liked Alice.

My birthday was such a brilliant joyful day, but in the evening I was hit with anxiety. My things weren't going to fit in my bags. I wasn't feeling 100%. Bad sleep. I'm getting older. I forgot sunscreen and had gotten beet burn--not an ideal condition to start two days outdoors. I called myself an idiot. I looked at my hiking pants. I hadn't tried them on since I bought them and had probably gained five pounds since then. If they didn't fit, I had no other options. "I'm a fat idiot," I said outloud. What was happening? This has never been how I treat me.

My mom would say these weren't my own thoughts but some nasty cultural lies that stuck to me like briars. Since the negativity felt so foreign, I am inclined to agree. I bet this happens to a lot of women/people.

There have been other things--it's been harder and harder for me to make decisions this year. Any decision. I'm always timely with mine, but less certain. I wonder more. I worry more. "My life was run by fear," a thing I've heard said at the start of motivational speeches or in narrative essays. I have never related. I'm just not afraid of much. I am calm on a shaking plane. I welcome an emotional disruption. I have started over numerous times. But I was afraid to hike a thing that thousands of people do every day. Because maybe I wouldn't have the right backpack or order the right fish at dinner or just feel the right way.

I have no idea when this started. After a lot of consideration, I have a theory. My life is really perfect. I'm doing everything I have wished for my whole life. I perform improv (for money) several times a week, I write, I teach in the arts, I have a loving partner, good friends, supportive family. It's 4 PM and I am sitting in the sun with a brownie in my gut. Literally any day of the past year would be my past self's dream--tutoring and seeing plays at Steppenwolf, a big open gym, stages and coffee houses, Sophia Bush hugged me this year! I am living my best version of my best self, and I think it's too good to be true. Like maybe I don't deserve it? Or at the very least it's all incredibly fragile. I used to have nothing to lose. Now I feel like every choice could take me a teeny bit higher or plummet me to dust. This is dramatic and untrue. I have done incredible things this year! Memorable and challenging, unbelievable and rare. I am so proud.

I feel freer. This ivy grew secretly. I yank at the vines. The leaves rip rip rip rip. And also, I guess, the hiking worked.

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