Being Alive

What does being alive feel like? Are you alive right now?

Silly question, yes, as if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this, of course.

But the important question is what else wouldn’t you be doing?

 No, this is not going to be one of those morose ‘Wanted a life, ‘live or dead’’ posts which encourages you to be reckless or, worse, ruthless, with your time, your heart, your responsibilities, your health, or most importantly, those you love, while in pursuit of your dreams.

It’s more tender than that, I hope.

It’s about what ‘alive’ feels like and how to fit feeling it into more moments, like the yummy jelly that, when one slathers it on a little too generously, a little too joyfully, a little too delightedly, it squishes out the sides of the peanut butter sandwich. That kind of feeling alive, licking it off, smiling at the ‘mistake’ and the utter sweetness of this moment overflowing with just a little more than is judged ‘necessary.’

That kind of alive.

 

There are a lot of “last looks” in my life right now. Those times when one looks and knows that it will be irretrievably different the next time.

Like the ‘last look’ at the ocean the night before flying home to a land-locked desert.

Or a last look at a garden in October.

 

Last night, I walked circles in my yard, accompanying a beloved companion who is in her last hours and moments alive here on Earth and is feeling restless. We walked through snow, through heavy snowflakes on the wind during a Spring storm, through star-studded night when the clouds suddenly lifted, through cold wind filled with frozen blossoms from our trees, and then slowly back into our warm house, only to repeat the journey every hour or so in the wee hours of the morning till dawn when she finally rested.

I was tired, yes, but she was more so. She knows her time is near; it’s obvious to all of us. So I couldn’t begrudge the time spent with her doing exactly as she pleased, or the cold night. It was full of ‘alive’ things to feel, to smell, to notice, to feel, I say again.

Instead I wondered what I’d do if, like her, I had the luxury of such knowing that life is lived moment to moment, not in years or in business cycles, just moment to moment living. (We all do have that luxury.)

Would I too stop and breathe deeply, aware of the depth of cold flowing inside my chest? Would I mind or marvel at the snowflakes thick on my eyelashes?

In watching her, I was shown how to be alive in this moment, for actually the snowflakes were cloaking my lashes as well, but I was observing, not necessarily feeling. I was observing her, alive, rather than feeling the wonder as well; I was feeling the cold under my coat and the sadness of the moment. She, beyond care for such things as time, simply lived the moment fully. It was then, in realizing this, that I too began to feel the wonder of the moment and the fullness of ‘alive’ and what it means, breathing cold air and seeing through cloaked flakes with her, nearby, together.

So are you alive? As you read this, Is there something sensual that awakens in you to the experience of just right now?

What does this have to do with being one’s best in this moment, or on one’s life path, or of feeling here for a purpose and a heart-filled task to do?

 

Everything, I think.

 I can’t say it was my purpose to be in outside in the night with her trapsing through ever more snow, hour by hour, but there is no one else to be so or to do it. It is just us and this time and this place. So no doubt it is my purpose and no doubt in memory it will be my honor, a call out of dense blank sleep to be at my best rather than cranky about the cold wind or the hour.

 

We are each called to moments in which to be alive, whether alone or with someone or something else, in which to feel a heart-full of love and gratitude, wonder and awe.

This is one now.

Blessings on you as you live it.

 Elizabeth Darby

 

 

 

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Vacation (Holiday) Life Plans

Holiday thinking © elizabethdarby 2011

Holiday thinking
© elizabethdarby 2011

If you’ve been following this blog (and I thank all of you who are; it makes my day to see your smiles!), you’ll know that I posed a question a few weeks ago:

“If tomorrow were your last day on Earth,

what would you be really sad you’ve never done?”

Hopefully a number of you made the list, and put it on your official To Do Today action list!

Ooh, that sounds so important that “To Do Today Action List”!

For stationery junkies like me, I imagine a new project notebook, new pens, and a whole sheet of paper with the first column being my Official Super-duper To Do Today Action List… with room to the right for the details of how I will get it done and a little box I get to check off once I’ve achieved it.

But there’s something missing here…

It’s the place and space for the feelings. It’s the big space in our souls where we can treasure how it feels to really get this lovely dream Done!

After all, it’s not about ticking off the boxes, it’s about how joyful and lovely it feels to be In the Dream while achieving it.

So I offer another way to approach this ‘what I really want to do is…” list:

Holiday — or Vacation — thinking.

When on a holiday (not the Christmas kind but the ones you dream about and delight in taking), think of how you feel a few days before it’s over — while in the middle of it — before you are heading back Home. Think of the moment when you awaken, happy, rested, looking forward to another day on holiday, and you ask yourself and beloveds,

“So, what else do we want to do? What else would be fun for today…?”

So many key words there:

For Fun

Today

Want… to do

Do you feel how delightful even just the question feels?

There’s not a thing in your way. There’s no wrong answer. There’s no sense of should or have to, no shall we nor can I. No, it’s just pure joyful potential for a day to be spent . . .

for fun, today, and doing what you desire to do.

That which you enjoy doing, a dream being experienced, a moment to carry and remember and which feels like the energy and fuel of life.

It is.

I suggest boldly (and brazenly, perhaps) that this is how we should make our To Do Action Lists when thinking of our “Next Act” in our lives. This is true whether it’s a Next as in career, job, work, or next as in dream, life, love and task being On Purpose and using our gifts to contribute to our aching world.

I’m not the only one; as I noted in my book the great composer/musician/conductor Leonard Bernstein had the same philosophy: When not sure of what to do next, he searched his soul and the horizon for, he said, what he called “the next fun thing.”

I, for one, don’t mind using his amazing life as a mentor and coach for my own time here.

Another thing I suggest boldly is:

This is the way we are meant to live, to spend our Life-time here being: On Purpose and on Task, doing what we are so very talented at doing, and in service of that bountiful energy that is Love and Life and Being,

bringing beauty and shine to the world.

There’s a commercial on PBS — perhaps you’ve seen it: A man asks a number of the public what each would do if s/he could earn money doing exactly what s/he wanted . . . and the list comes out: architect, teacher, sky-diver, cafe-owner . . . and the ‘kicker’ is that if you invest your money with his company, you can indeed ‘pay yourself to do what you wish to do’ as, he says, “it’s called retirement.”

My last bold suggestion: It’s how we should be living our lives right now.

Not as if already in retirement’ but rather in paying oneself (i.e. valuing oneself and the gifts and talents you carry and are given) to do the work you are here to do and to which you can bring your best soul and self, your best talents and sense of purpose, passion and excitement.

And yes, choosing your Today Action Tasks even with your Holiday/Vacation mindset:

to live this day and this moment On Task, On Purpose, and joyfully bringing your best You into this world.

Wherever you are, have a lovely (Holiday) day today; there’s no time like right now to download that feeling into your heart, and let it light up your time, your day and your energetic smile.

So as you tick off your Done this Dream on your list, you feel — really feel — the sweet joy of your soul smiling.

Wouldn’t the world be a lovely place if we all were On Task and On Purpose, joyfully doing our best with our talents, gifts, and passion each and every day?

Blessings on your day!

Elizabeth Darby