something i’ve been struggling with lately is what to do when i get stuck. when i’m in a rut and i’m spending the majority of my time stressed about the little things, what do i do when i don’t feel alive? i turned to google just to see what the internet suggested, the highlights included a very inspirational pinterest board, a recipe for a very questionable detox smoothie, and an article on wikihow that lists 24 steps to feel alive (pictures included). basically everything i read boils down to this: find what you love and let it consume you.
maybe that’s running or hiking or playing the guitar or writing… or maybe it’s travelling an absurd amount of miles to go to a concert.
1,076 miles to be exact, to the roxy theater in los angeles, california.
for those who know me, you will not be surprised to hear that the band was paradise fears. for those who are knew to this, i’ll have to give you the summary.
four years ago i met six boys from vermillion, south dakota who were trying to sell their cd outside of a concert venue in denver so that they would have enough gas money to get back home. I quickly learned that this was more than just a broke band trying to make it, they were genuine people making real music, who were passionate about what they were doing. fast forward a year and i’ve gotten to know them as people and i’m watching their ep go from nothing to earning them a spot on the itunes alternative chart. fast forward another year and i’m flying to tucson to see them play and i’m getting choked up on the plane home because i miss them. fast forward to 2013 and i’m driving to iowa to see them again. fast forward to right now, this band has given me some of my best friends, these guys are some of the most important people in my life, and their music is what gets me through the really shitty days.
so now it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that last weekend i drove to los angeles to see this band. there was a fleeting moment after i had driven two hours from flagstaff to phoenix to pick up my friends from the airport and we were getting in the car to drive another 6 to la, where i acknowledged just how insane this was. but just for that one fleeting moment. because all the other moments after that i was too busy feeling alive to care about reality. (that moment was put on the record for my parents’ sake because they thought it was insane for a lot more than one fleeting moment).
there i was in a taxi flying (literally flying there are no speed limits in la i swear) through downtown los angeles passing billboards and street signs and stores that were lit up with the brightest lights, past all kinds of people with all kinds of stories and lives- everything was magic and i couldn’t have wiped the smile off my face even if i had wanted to. i was in a new and exciting city full of life and energy with two of my favorite people on my way to see my favorite band and hear my favorite songs and dance with my best friends.
i was alive.
but the set can only last for so long and eventually the night had to end and there i was in the car driving back to phoenix (in the middle of palm springs to be exact which is apparently the hottest place on the planet) thinking about how alive i had felt the night before and how stuck i had been feeling the previous week and i started to panic because now what was i supposed to do? what happens when i can’t just pick up my friends from the airport and drive 1,000 miles to see a concert? is it enough to simply know that i am capable of feeling alive? is that enough to get me unstuck? to get rid of the empty? and right there in the middle of palm springs while we had to turn the ac off because it was 109 degrees and the car was going to overheat, i figured it out.
i bottled up all the aliveness i had felt at the show and i put it away for when i was feeling stuck. i reminded myself that you’re really never stuck because there will always be another chance to feel alive, you’ve just gotta be patient. i reminded myself that what makes a person a person is not all the stuck feelings; it’s all the nights you couldn’t stop smiling because you saw your favorite band, it’s the look on the taxi drivers face when you told him you drove from arizona for this show and you were gonna see it again the next night in phoenix, it’s the way your heart swells up 4 times it’s size when you’re with the people you love, and it’s the sum of all the times that ever made you feel alive.
so maybe i drove 1,000 miles because i was stuck or because when sam miller hugs me i feel like nothing could ever be wrong again or because screaming the words to those songs makes my heart so full i feel like it might explode.
or maybe it was because i wanted to feel alive.
i know there’s not a single person out there who doesn’t know what it feels like to be stuck. and i know i’m only 19 years old and i don’t really carry a lot of weight in terms of life experience, but if you haven’t done it already you need to figure out what makes you feel alive and you need to chase after it. because everyone should feel the way that i felt in that taxi in the middle of downtown la.
(and if you don’t want to take my word for it, you can go read that wikihow article but make sure you look at the pictures).