By: Abbey Brau
“Oh, wow! Really? Why?”
Me: **silence** Um..
“I mean, like, what made you decide to do that? Isn’t it dirty?”
I’m in conversation with a roommate’s friend who I’ve met before but don’t know very well. My roommate and I had friends over for [insert any reason to get together and have wine with your lady friends], and she is referring to the fact that it has just been brought up that I was currently spending time training to complete the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS). And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. A 28.5-mile swim around the island of Manhattan in New York. Yes, in the Hudson River. And, yes, in the East River. And no, I didn’t see any dead bodies.
I answer her last question, “well I don’t think it’s as dirty as it used to be…”
But I couldn’t answer her “why?”. I eventually stumbled through an explanation of my swimming career and open-water swims in the lakes of MN. But then, at the end of my verbal justification for all the hours of swim training I had ahead of myself, this lighthearted gem fell out, “and I mean… why not?!”
This interaction got me thinking. Why DO I continue to push the distances I could swim? Why do I set these challenging goals for myself that take years to complete? Like a 4-year-old trying to get to the bottom of why we ultimately use cups, WHY? WHY? WHY?
I came to this conclusion: well, why the hell not?! My roommate at the time was also training for her first Ironman. So we had been living in a little bubble of endurance-athlete “normalness”. And by that I mean that conversations about 4-hour pool swims and 80-mile training bike rides were not uncommon. And I knew people had also asked her the “why” question. Excited by the new found explanation for my chosen leisure-time activity, I promptly printed out a little sign and framed it. In a world where Pinterest rules and motivational quotes can be art, I had the perfect little piece leaning against the wall on the “keys” table by the door. After explaining my revelation, and our new print, to my roommate, she was immediately on board — “yes! That’s exactly it!”
Do you ever do something just because you want to? Or it seems right? Or it seems “cool”? Right here — that’s me. And it doesn’t have to be a wild and crazy endurance event. It’s anything that might be a little out of the box or weird or different or challenging or new. If you can’t decide why you want to do something, a perfect answer is, “why not?” or, if you lean a little extra, “why the hell not?!” I promise you, no one will question you. And, if they do, you can always use the new fall back, do it for the gram. Okay, okay, don’t actually do something just for the socials, but in all seriousness, don’t be afraid to get out there and do the things that make people ask you, why?! Ultimately, if you want to try something wild, or just wild for the typical you, you don’t owe anyone — even yourself — more of an explanation other than, why not?
So, go winter camping, rent a fat bike for the weekend, start the blog and take the spontaneous long weekend trip to San Francisco (even though you have to take a red eye home). Because, well, why the hell not?
Abbey Brau is a self-proclaimed life enthusiast and coffee addict. She also lives with Type 1 diabetes but doesn’t let that stop her from from swimming around islands, biking across the country or traveling as much as her work/life balance will allow. You can find her avoiding her desk at an ad agency in Minneapolis, on Instagram at @ambrau, and sometimes blogging at ambrau.com.