Living - VS - Existing - What makes you feel alive?
'To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all
.' Oscar Wilde
Having already seen it plenty of times before, I recently stumbled across this quote again on my daily positivity scroll but this time, it resonated with me significantly more than it ever has.
Maybe it's timing, maybe it's mindset or maybe it's simply something worth addressing and now is its time to shine.
See, the fact is, every single one of us is alive every second of our lives, but when is the last time we really felt alive? When did we last feel enthusiastic about living, about being alive, about our own day-to-day? Are we actually so used to just reluctantly existing - clocking in and out of our days, going through the motions yet feeling as though we're staying static.
Are we active participants of our lives or mere bystanders watching with disinterest as it passes us by?
As frequently happens for me, this quote planted its seed within my mind and of course I couldn't help but continuously water it. This little seed is definitely something worth growing.
From the beginning this blog has been about daring; it's about real, exciting, scary, and whole experiences of life and showing up to these with relentless courage and will. It began as a place of hope, light and survival from those of us, who at some point or other, no longer wanted to live.
But when we dare to live now, we get the fulfilling joy of truly living. A messy, haphazard, delightful and colourful joy of feeling, experiencing and overcoming. A culmination of our lessons learnt and our mistakes mended. Living is what we're about, but settling on 'existing' just won't cut it.
We can read as many quotes as we like, we can read articles left, right and centre but if we don't understand what it means for us to be fully alive, I think we miss the whole point.
So what does being alive really mean? When we dare to live, what are we doing?
This is a personal topic; by no means is it a 'one-size fits all', so it demands a daring dive into our own experiences and learnings. Really, this topic is about discovering and taking note of what it is for you.
Here's what my exploration has come up with:
1. New Things
Learning new things is a wonderful concept, but when push comes to shove, sometimes we shy away from the struggle of being a beginner. I've found though, that trying new things never fails to wake me up. Regardless what it is - trying out a new language, taking up a new hobby, or even meeting new people - all of these mean coming out of our comfort zone and embracing change. When we welcome new things into our life, we extend our arms to a wonderful energy of renewed life and vibrancy. It allows us come alive by seeing new sights , feeling new feelings and taking on new challenges.
2. Being Vulnerable
Vulnerability incessantly perseveres in teaching me new lessons. Though seemingly knowing the theory inside out, I'm still consistently surprised when its active power impacts me. Vulnerability makes us feel, it awakens our conscious experience and connects us. Whether it's allowing ourselves our tears, opening up to another or pushing outside of our comforts - vulnerability ignites our humanity. Though I fought it for years, being human and legalising vulnerability in life allows an authentic feeling of being alive. Unfortunately (for some of us), we're not robots and the gift of being alive means that more often than not, we would definitely benefit from embracing that fact.
Having just spent an incredible two weeks away travelling nine cities, I couldn't compile this list without including some form of exploration. The world is a huge and thoroughly unbelievable place and whether we want to be or not, we are an important part of it.
Getting involved and getting excited about what's out there is an amazing feeling. There is so much to take in, so much to see, feel and experience. Even if we merely take on our hometowns with the eyes of a tourist, we can still get to see it in a different light. Travelling entirely made me feel alive, grateful and so extremely lucky and at peace. When we look at the world with fresh eyes, we can begin to see it clearly - we see the awe-inspiring architecture, we appreciate the nature, we enjoy the bustling activity of everyday life. Everywhere we go could be an adventure if we choose to see it that way, it's a mere matter of mindset.
Not a chance would 'old me' have had this as a heading but more and more I'm finding myself appreciating the colourful, diverse and intriguing intricacies that nature exudes. Seeing it and paying attention to my surroundings makes me feel alive. I genuinely couldn't have given less f*cks about birds or flowers or even the sky before but now I am in awe on a regular basis; gawking at the vivid spectrum of the day's sunset and how it has interwoven with the whisps of cloud or watching a squirrel scurry up a tree metres away from me. We're a pertinent part of this beautiful world, we might as well notice and embrace it.
I like to move it move it.,Genuinely though, I do. Whether it's busting some moves in the privacy of my bedroom or eagerly climbing hundreds of steps to get a good view - moving gives a wonderful sense of liveliness within. It creates energy and gently reconnects us to our bodies. It allows us to reach new places, to flow and regenerate with the resources that we actually always have inside. Dance, play, run around, walk in new places, juggle, whatever it is that makes you feel alive, just do it.
As a former phobic of being dependent on anyone ever, I've come to the conclusion that other people are actually pretty alright. Connection and experiencing something real with our fellow Darers is an undeniably special way to expand our enthusiasm towards life. Feeling connected to other people, in friendship, in our families or in romantic relationships is an incomparable feeling. Yeah sometimes it's scary or unsure or confusing and we need to force ourselves to tap into #2's Vulnerability, but it's so worth it that we do it without question. Maybe it can even be headwrecking occasionally to care so much about another person, but of course it's also worth it for all those warm fuzzies, those belly laughs and those content moments where all we need to do is smile. We're all in this together, it;s high time we embraced that.
I'd be the first to admit that emotions are not easy. They're not particularly comfortable, they don't always make us feel good and for some reason there's a concept of 'weakness' attached to them. Oddly enough though, for me, they're a very strong indicator of being alive. Committing to life and living means committing to the feelings that come with it - the disappointments, the nerves, the sadness, the joy, the anger and the entire mishmash of feeling that comes hand in hand with being a human. Some of the most 'alive' moments come when we're balling our eyes out or blindly cursing in our fury, some of them are when we're completely at peace or others when our tummies are fiercely fluttering and our lips quivering. Emotions are a necessity if we want a full, real experience. I still don't think I could honestly say I'm mad about all of them, but I absolutely see and respect their worth in helping me feel alive.
Passion for me is an overwhelmingly strong attachment and commitment to a certain idea or cause, it's a fiery driving force towards what intrinsically matters most to us, a catalyst towards our creations, a veritable vigour of feeling. Without giving passion a place in my life, I think I'd unquestionably feel a lot less lively. Not only does it drive us towards what we want, it rigorously reminds us of what we care about. It relentlessly nags at us to pursue that which wakes us up to the world we're in. Passion is an energetic enigma with a mission for us, a mission which, when acknowledged, becomes our driving force of being alive.
When I initially thought of what makes me feel alive - one of the first to spring to mind was 'doing things I love'. Clearly creativity is one such thing without which, I'd retreat into Robot mode. Creativity helps shape our thoughts into articles, our challenges into poetry, our experiences into music. It gives colour to our lives through art, magnifies our strengths through expression and allows us the freedom to create something new with all our raw material of life's little learnings. Creativity conducts a unique energy of living our talents and dreams.
10. Me Time
Spending time to soothe ourselves with self care is always time well spent. For me, taking and enjoying this time never fails to recharge me. We all have needs, we have stuff that makes us feel better, practices that reconnect us - me time is exactly that for some of us. It's when we dedicate our time to ourselves, do things we want to do and revel in this time as a sacred thing. This evening, I feel alive because I get to write, in my room with my music blaring and incense burning. Contentment cultivates our sense of 'alive', it drives our desire to continue seeking fulfillment and it gives us reason to keep on keeping on.
This list is of course, nowhere near exhaustive, there's so much more in life that gives us that sense of really being a part of our own lives, an alive active human taking on our alive and active experiences. For each of us, something different will ignite that fire of life in our bellies and that's a fantastic fact. Having spent time on this subject myself, I can only encourage that you do the same. Explore what life gives to you that you like, discover what wakes you up, contemplate what makes you feel connected.
What makes us feel most alive, I think, is noticing. It's noticing what's around us, what's in front of us and what's within us. It's about realising what we have, what we want and what we're working towards. It's choosing not to be a passive participant and to embrace the discomfort, the disappointments and the disasters as much as we welcome the wonder.
This is living.
This is entirely all over the place, somewhat disconcerting, distinctly colourful and repeatedly remarkable living.
Being alive is everything at once but in every single minuscule moment, it is complete and utter magic.