Monday, July 6, 2009

Life Takes You Where It Goes....

Several weekends ago I decided to take up walking again. I've been quite the slug lately, and I needed to get moving for physical reasons --- obviously -- as well as mental reasons. (Stress relief, anyone?) The exercise has been great, and I have managed to keep it up for several weeks in a row. But what I wasn't really expecting was the almost-spiritual benefit that I gained from that first walk.

I woke up early one Saturday morning and decided to "be productive" and hit the pavement. I headed out on my "usual" 30-minute jaunt around the neighborhood with iPod in tow, complete with upbeat playlist. The sky was clear as a bell, and the temps hadn't hit the hellishly-hot marks yet; so the conditions were ripe for a stroll. As I made my way through the neighborhood, though, I decided to veer off my normal path.

To make a long story (or walk, rather) short, my 30-minute walk turned into an hour and 45 minute trek through neighborhoods, downtown Decatur, a good portion of College Ave and eventually back into Oakhurst....a total of about 6 or 7 miles. I hit my stride, enjoyed my tunes, and cleared my head.

At one point on the final leg of my "journey" I saw something that made me stop & take out my camera...I saw what I thought was the saddest piece of graffiti EVER. It read:

"Boy never wants to lose girl again."

My initial read was that these were the tormented words of a guy that just lost his girl to another man and his heart was broken. I was so moved by the rawness & the vulnerability of it that I had to take out the camera and snap a photo.

After pausing for a sec to glance at my photo another time, I made my way around to the other side of the building where I noticed this: another piece of graffiti that was obviously tied to the first one.

"Boy finds girl after too long."

It was only then that I began to realize that I read the first message out of context. My heart lifted & I snapped another shot. And as I turned around, I saw the final message in my little graffiti tryptych:

"Boy Marries Girl 6/17/09."

What I initially interpreted as a story of heartbreak & relationship ending was really one of love & new beginnings.

I willingly admit I'm a sucker for romance, but have to admit this was pretty darn cool, right? My heart leapt a little and a goofy grin spread across my face. I know it seems silly, but it's crazy how graffiti scrawled across an abandoned storefront brightened my day.

When I came home, I tweeted about my find, and the response I got from my brother was:
"Americans love a happy ending."
Now, I admit, the "story" did, in fact, have a happy ending, but I'm not sure that's why I thought it was so neat. The way I saw it was it was more like this...Upon first read, I thought I had things figured out, and I reacted to that story, as I knew it, accordingly. Yet sometimes -- most of the time -- the story is different than it appears. In this case, I read the story out of context, and the real meaning/ending took me by surprise. And I think that the fact that I did read it out of context is what made it so beautiful.

I think part of my problem is that I'm either viewing my life too much "in context" or "out of context"...or that I'm even trying to put things into "context" at all. I look at decisions in a linear sense, when many times they're not linear. I get stuck on the first part of the decision and fail to see the possibility that's behind the building. I get stuck seeing the heartbreak and fail to see the love... This is true in decisions about changing jobs, changing cities, or in the past, changing relationships.

What I've learned but always seem to forget is that "Life takes you where it goes...." (to quote a favorite Juno song). Just like life led me to veering off my normal walking route one Saturday morning -- and thus showing me my little graffiti love-story -- it's going to take me "wherever it's going to take me" in the future. I need to learn to just open my eyes, breathe, and go....

And besides, who needs happy endings when the fun and the perspective comes along the way?