“I Choose this Madness”

“You are weird!”

I have never been so happy to hear those words together. An Australian friend had walked out on me splitting wood, after I had brought the group some cookies, asked them to take part in a personal project of mine, and explained my old school to them.

I was seen.

The day before was very difficult. I felt slow as I continued training, I made mistakes, and I went to bed just wanting to be back in California. I slogged through the moments wondering if all the things I believed about myself being an interesting individual worthy of being seen as an equal to everyone was really true.

After all, so much of the world seems to want to shove it down my throat that “You’re young. Wait till real life starts. Too many people think they are above average when in reality they just need to learn to work hard and understand they aren’t being coddled anymore. Life is hard. You’re young. Wait till real life starts.”

Those words played through my head on repeat. I struggled to fight them off, but went to sleep with tears in my eyes.

Tomorrow would be better. I was sure of it.

I woke up knowing that I had to start my day with my full routine. I meditated for ten minutes, practiced a qigong exercise for another ten minutes, and did some body strengthening exercises. I told myself I was going to have an amazing day. My life is beautiful. I am interesting and worthy of being known.

I am not here to take people’s bullsh*t.

And my day was absolutely fantastic.

My work was more efficient and better quality. I met people from Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, and France. I baked cookies. I attended fire training again and was told to put on a uniform so I could participate in the exercises that weren’t potentially dangerous. I used one of the hoses and learned techniques to deal with the pressure of the water.

I went for a walk alone under the stars and breathed deeply.

“I am mad/but I choose this madness.” – Gloria Anzaldua

Heady Freedom in Homemade Cookies

I remembered the scent of alcoholic breath as I listened to the waves of voices and laughter coming through my closed window. Beer-induced jokes and youth-induced carefree natures collided in what felt like a cacophony of slurred sounds.
I remembered the faces of individuals searching for a reason to be, something to enjoy, as they moved through a beautiful country. Armed with camper vans and sleepy smiles, they lit places up with the fires of heady freedom and fearing a future of boredom.

My favorite part was bringing them cookies.

They had all returned from the Tongariro Crossing on a day that almost literally swept them off their feet. Wind and rain soaked through jeans and morale as if it were toilet paper. Many were thankful for the experience, but all were weary. Remembering the cookie dough I had left in the fridge, I bustled off to heat the oven.

Thirty minutes later I walked out with a plate of cookies cut in half and still warm. I propose we add a new facial expression to the common ones: “receiving a warm cookie after hiking for too many freaking hours.” Those smiles were some of the most sincere I have ever received. Homemade cookies may not be able to find your path, but perhaps they can coax you just a little bit more towards what a warm life can mean.