My best friend Red has had the year of her life. It could easily be translated into a Lifetime movie, or in the very least, an epically (and sometimes failed) adventure.
We meet weekly and philosophize on the beauty of life and love, and the artistic mess it can be.
This week, over Thai food, the topic of ease came up.
Everyone knows someone who “has it all.” And these people usually haven’t had to lift a finger for any of it. This was particularly bothering Red, because a friend of hers couldn’t understand the finer points of maturity and decision making, which she believed was due to the ease in their life. Red and I both are very driven and independent. Red more so than me. So I did understand her frustration.
I smiled and didn’t bring up the fact that she wouldn’t have accepted freebies in life the way others do, even if they were there. I once watched her survive solely on black coffee and baked potatoes on a weekend trip because she was waiting for money to go through the bank and hadn’t bothered to tell anyone that was all she could afford. I told her next time just ask and that I would be happy to draft a master promissory note so she could have money and eat more than baked potatoes.
Today she said that she wouldn’t want everything handed to her, but having things slightly easier for a change would be nice. I nodded in agreement, but couldn’t get the topic of ‘ease’ out of my head. I know of ease, but only under a prefix: dis-ease. And yes, it has indeed dis-comforted my life. But this in-ease has made everything way more valueable. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have a deep sadness for those that haven’t felt a true dis-ease in their life. For that is the biggest illness of all, and empathy from them is far from all encompassing.
My favorite part of knowing dis-ease is the power that comes with it: to make everything look easy. That is where the magic lies. To make getting up on painful days, smiling and paying attention when I’d rather sleep, finding the beauty in every day, to be unapologetically determined in all that I do (including how I got Oz), and not being afraid to share my disease with the world, to make all of that look easy, then I know I am doing something right. Because not one of those things is easy. Most of the time they are failures and not the kind associated with adventures.
I asked Red how she felt about her past year, the changing of future plans, the time she spent in L.A., her self-discoveries, her tragedies, her triumphs. I told her none of that was easy, but she had such grace about her that it was inspiring, even in the sadness.
She thought for a minute and said,”I don’t mind not having the ease after all. It makes me feel brave.”
I’ll take my bravery earned through dis-ease any day.
Because most days I just want to feel brave, not at ease.