It was a lovely September evening. Pap and I were sitting at a little red table on the sidewalk in front of the coffee shop, enjoying a cup of tea and some conversation. Oh sure, we’d later dub it the “sidewalk of a thousand smells” because the odors wafting around ranged from freshly welded metal, to especially foul-smelling dog poo, to what might have been someone smoking a big doobie just a few feet away. And sure, the conversation wasn’t exactly light, what with me needing to vent about my estranged brother being at death’s door in the hospital, and about my break-up with the dude, and about work worries. That Pap, he’s a good listener and we managed to laugh some anyway.
And then it happened.
I felt a little something wet on my left shoulder. “Strange,” I thought. “It’s not raining.”
I looked down, only to spot one of these
sitting on my shoulder. Peeing on me.
I kind of hollered and spastically swatted it away.
It left behind a bug-size pool of pee on my arm. It was yellow and everything.
I gave the obligatory “Ewwwwwwwwww!” and wiped it off.
Perfect. Like my break up and my dying estranged addict brother and worries about work weren’t enough activity for one week. A Stink Bug had to pee on me.
On the walk home, my dear sweet Pap remarked that I seemed to be in good spirits despite everything going on.
Here’s the thing. I find myself thinking about happiness lately, and whether it’s foolish for me to decide to just be happy – or at the very least peaceful — in the middle of big, hairy, ugly, painful life events like break ups and loved ones falling ill and bugs peeing on you. Is this denial? I don’t think it’s denial, because I feel pain over these events (except maybe the bug, that wasn’t painful, mostly it was just kind of disgusting and also very weird). I just don’t feel suffering over them, at least not most of the time. Author Haruki Murakami says “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” And I think it’s true most of the time.
So that’s it. I’ve decided that I’m not suffering today, in the midst of some of my life’s greatest unknowns. And that, sports fans, is where it’s at. For me anyway. For today.
And if a Stink Bug pees on you when you’re hashing out some of life’s ugliness with your best friend, here’s what you do. Holler, spaz out, clean yourself off. And move on.