by Lynn Kim Do

an epiphany bomb

I haven't seen him in awhile. But gratefully, we have the kind of friendship that stirs up the same fondness we last left off. No matter the distance between our last chat and occasional run-ins. Supposedly, these friendships are common. And supposedly, they form with age. Clearly, from the last two sentences and the not-so-subtle doubt and dash of bitterness, you can envision my familiarity with them. I’m an intense human being, if you haven’t been tipped off by my online gut-punching presence so far. So no, I don’t have many of those kinds of friendships. But I can strongly suggest that our friendship is different from the rest. It feels easy. It is easy. I guess what makes it possible is...our phenomenal lack of ego. Quite refreshing. I can trust him. Genuinely. And he can trust me. We value one another's opinions. We provide support, critique, and even expand on existing thoughts ideas. Also rare. After all, ideas and opinions are precious. The wrong intention can queue a series of dreary events. But the right intention, well, it can save you, can make you, can elevate you.

And yet other times, that friend is helpful with something entirely different. Right when I wasn’t looking for anything less or more. He lit the flame on an epiphanic bomb. And not the kind of bomb that burns through layers my skin, revealing raw flesh and pus. It is a gentle bomb, easily missed if the opportunity is taken for granted. He gives you, well, you. Not all of you. But apart of you that you had looked over even after all those retrospective nights.

To give you some context, we are the walk-ins of a brand new hip Bushwick pizzeria. We are in fact the first and the only ones there. “Lucky you, Jamal, I rented out this entire space for us.” I have also used this joke more than once. We catch up with hard facts first, then ideas, and then we approach the more abstract part of the evening. We are down to the crust of our Margarita Pizza and very low on our Perrier Sparking water. I begin to lay out my internal crisis—my distrust in old friends, my everyday exhausting hustle, my “am I ever doing enough” sentiment. In my self-afflicted confusion, he says "Lynn, I'm not worried about you. I know you'll do what makes you happy. I know that whatever it is that you're in, you'll always choose happiness."

And that's when I realized a few things. First off, he's right. I have always chosen to be the hero of my own story. I can’t exactly pinpoint why or how I adopted this mindset but I do know that I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. I will always choose happiness over money. Over people. Over convenience. Over just about everything. Second, I realized that happiness is a choice. We go day by day always thinking about the wrong things that happen in our day—waking up late for work, missing our train, someone cutting us off, an unreturned phone call. We don't spend our day thinking of all the right things unless they're larger achievements or unless they're in relation to a setback (like oh yes, I went to the gym today because I never go and I'm fat.) What if we turned those thoughts around. What if our days were filled with thoughts like—this blanket on my flesh feels amazing, I got to see someone smile on the train today, the Spotify playlist is on point today, I turned down a cookie today, I just ate the best cookie EVER (hehe). The last thing I realized is that there’s nothing wrong with choosing happiness. People make you feel bad, make me feel bad for choosing me over them. My health and my benefit over theirs or what they think is the “right” choice. I am selfish, they say? Well, they’re freaking selfish for thinking they can suggest what I should or shouldn’t do. And you know how you cut off people in your life, like totally dead them? I don’t see a problem with that. I use to be very good at it. And then people told me that it was unhealthy. Now that I’ve experienced both, here is my verdict—Don’t put yourself in miserable situations. It is NOT worth it. So if that means that you need to cut someone out, I say, “what are you waiting for.”

Visuals by Daniela