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The Day We Figured Out the Meaning of Life Before 8 a.m. and Then Turned Hot Pink In Very Odd Places

Amber

My armpits are bright pink and my toes are green. Showering has no effect, even though I scandalized the dog walker by bursting into the house covered in splatters of color and declaring that I was headed straight to the washing machine, where I planned to strip and then bolt to the shower as is. I've never seen anyone stumble out a door so fast. Turns out The Color Run is my happy place. You step onto the starting line all proud and pristine in your new white shirt. Then some random guy takes your color virginity by slapping your back with a green handprint. He asks first, which you give him credit for, but then he does it to your friend too and you have to feel a little betrayed, because didn't we just have a moment? No? You just go around leaving green handprints on everyone? I guess it's just that kind of colored love fest. Then you run the rainbow gauntlet. By the time the dust settles, your white shirt is a mere memory and you look like this.

I don't mind telling you that I had my sloth moment. The whole thing just made me so darn happy. Also, I had a whole lot of pink dust in my contacts. The crying was mostly because of the dust but also because the sheer joy of that crowd was a thing to behold.

Less of a joy was how the combined genius of Drea and I turned a simple 5k into an eight mile odyssey. This post could also be titled That Time I Thought I Could Bend The Time Space Continuum and Was Wrong (Again) because we were supposed to be running with a whole bunch of people but underestimated what was needed to get to the starting point by a factor of about ten thousand cars. So we parked at a strip mall, trudged two and a half miles to the starting line, ran a 5k, danced with a whole bunch of color-drenched college students who convinced me I did college wrong, and then trudged two and a half miles back. I don't know what she did after that, but I showered until I realized the pink was never coming off and then I climbed into bed and died.

Wherein I Remember (Again) That It's Not The Situation, It's How I Feel About The Situation

Jogging with a whole bunch of bright purple people reminded me of a date I once went on. He took me to an airfield in Moss Beach where one of his friends stored a two-seater red Piper Cub. He took me flying over one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in California in a little red plane and when you do that, you automatically get awarded Best Date Ever. The sky was blue and perfectly clear and I saw all that gorgeous crashing water and dramatic cliff line from the air. It was one of those experiences you remember your whole life. The feeling of freedom and happiness and sailing through all that beauty stuck with me. For a long time, I attached it to the person and the little red plane and that great blue sky.

Turns out you don't need a plane to fly. I felt the exact same exhilaration running through all that color. And yeah, it wasn't about a bunch of pink powder either.

Sure it's easier to be happy when the world goes technicolor or you're doing barrel rolls over the Pacific Ocean, but it's just as easy when you're sitting in a coffee shop typing or riding the subway or doing your taxes.

Fine, maybe not doing your taxes. But you take my point.

But getting to the place where you can consistently feel that way without the color takes some work, as evolution hasn't quite caught up to the fact that we all need to enter this world with our own personalized instruction manual attached to our umbilical cord. What we should eat, how we should exercise, our best personal organizational system, and our life purpose so can all live to our maximum potential with a minimum of fuss.

As we sat in traffic, I said, "Well, maybe that's the point of living. To learn all that stuff."

Drea, ever smart and ever concise: "Is it?"

Yeah, that would be a depressing point. If the best you could do in life was figure out that you needed to go to the gym a lot and hire an accountant. We decided that you needed to do these things so you could do the other things, the other things summed up in the meaning of life we really did figure out by 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, mostly by blatantly stealing Chris Guillebeau's line: "What is life, but to love and create?"

You have to learn how to do all the things - the food, the exercise, the organization, the life purpose - so you can love and create. So you can love each moment for what it is. So you have a firm base off which to fly. Yep, it keeps coming down to being happy exactly where you are.

And yes, it's very easy to be happy when clouds of color rise in pink and yellow and green and blue and lavender. When the air smells like pixie sticks and you race through it, not even caring that your eyes are stinging and you can taste purple at the back of your throat. Because it's a color-flinging madhouse and it's downright thrilling to be in the middle of it. But it took a lot to get here too.

Happy.