Choosing To Be Alive


Alive: Having life: Not dead or inanimate.

Many years ago I attended a yoga conference where the theme was living fully alive. Some part of me was intrigued. And some part of me just did not get it. As in, obviously I am alive. Otherwise I would not be here. Therefore, what’s all the fuss about? Why focus an entire conference of multi-day workshops and keynotes around this obvious and undeniable reality?

I’ll tell you why. Because it is one thing for the body to have a pulse, and quite another to live an experience of being fully alive. Fully expressed. It’s so strange, really. Everything that comes into existence on the planet, whether a dandelion, baby animals, insects or trees, all come in bursting with life. Fully programmed to live, without exception, as completely as they can, the full potential of whatever they are. Knowing nothing other than this, until they no longer exist.

We humans are the only ones, in all of existence, who can be alive on paper, while not being meaningfully alive in a truly vital and authentic way. We see this in how we don’t speak up when everything in us is screaming to. We see this in the way we stay when it is really time to go. We see this in the way we take on the feelings, dysfunctions and responsibilities of others. We see this in all of the big and small ways that we diminish ourselves each and every day by the thoughts we harbor about ourselves.And we see this in all of the ways that we lie to ourselves and to others about who we really are; accepting and imposing false and imprisoning expectations around who we get to be.

Lately, it occurs to me that being born, truly the first choice around me being alive, did not require a conscious, active agreement on my part. But that now, it does. A pact that I, in fact, need to make with awareness moment by moment around how it is that I will show up in my life. A compact between me and Life itself that must transcend the past, with its deadening load of conditioning, pain, constrictions and limitations on my aliveness. A contract that I make with myself that must bypass and ignore what other people think, feel and believe about how I should live; about how alive I get to be. An absolute and stalwart understanding from within me that must rise above the zombie apocalypse I witness each and every day as more and more of us choose screen life, busyness, stress, numbing out, checking out, over-scheduling, fear and more over true aliveness.

Think about it for a moment. Look at all of the ways there are to medicate ourselves against the experience of being alive through food, alcohol, drugs, devices and more that deaden us to the experience of being fully alive.

I so want this for myself. I so want this for all of us. And yet, I also see what we are up against. Where are our role models? Where are the societal structures that offer the support we need to live in bodies energized, minds illumined and spirits soaring? Unfortunately, what we are up against all too often are the false highs provided by external substances and things like shopping or watching something titillating on a screen. But where are the genuine, natural and healthful outlets for an organic experience of aliveness? One that arises purely out of you being here. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Check it out for yourself. If you really chose to be alive, what would that look like for you? Would you settle for food that dulled you out? Would you acquiesce to keeping company with those that brought you down? Would acquiring things serve as the highest use of your precious time? And while we all know how to overstimulate ourselves, do you even know the down deep feeling of being animated and full of life, just because?

If you have no clue about what I am talking about, or even where or how to begin, start with what feels like a restriction, a bind, a shackle, an imposition. And then, as Bob Marley did, give yourself the instruction; “Open your eyes and look within, are you satisfied with the life your living? And if not, could you be courageous enough and alive enough to choose for that which animates and enlivens? Could you throw off that which deadens? As easily as a tree letting go of a diseased limb.