Getting a good night’s sleep makes me come alive. Eating something delicious makes me come alive. Intimacy makes me come alive. My 10 year old’s jokes, the impossible wisdom of my 13 year old and the kisses and cuddles of my 7 year old makes me come alive. Helping someone makes me come alive Humor makes me come alive. Letting myself cry when I am feeling frustrated, angry, sad makes me come alive. Nature makes me come alive. Creating and playing makes me come alive.
Coming alive is connecting and engaging in ways that wake us up to the beauty, fullness and joy of life. It only requires a willingness to make space, to be present and to connect. It centers around one’s most basic feelings and expressions of a human being. Still,many of us cannot make space for these simple life affirming things. We cannot give ourselves the permission to come alive.
Dr. Howard Thurman was an author, educator, mystic, and civil rights leader. He was an inspiration and mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King. His words are not feel good new age words. They are words meant to incite the greatest revolution of all times, the liberation of each of our hearts and minds.
We live in a society that has made coming alive subordinate to our daily ambition. And that ambition has crushed the life out of us without our noticing. It’s the anecdote of how to boil a frog: if you put a frog in hot water, it will jump out but if you put it in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, it will not notice that it is being cooked.This is what ambition is doing to us, slowly draining the life out of us without our noticing.
Daily ambitions are not simply grand plans and schemes. Daily ambitions are the belief that our present state must be sacrificed for something bigger and better in the future. This belief drives us to work long hours, neglect our loved ones, neglect our bodies and disconnect from the present moment. And yet it is commonly reported that at the end of our days, our ambitions remain an elusive mirage only to be replaced by regret. Regret that we did not spend our precious time doing the things that make us come alive.
Coming alive is an act of liberation and an act of courage. It can be as small as choosing to put bubbles in your bath, as serious as speaking a long held truth, as fulfilling as writing your novel, as silly as having a water balloon fight with your kids, as passionate as declaring your love to someone for the first time, as moving as pouring your heart out in prayer, or as defiant as using your body to protect and defend the water. Whatever it is, it is an act of self love and a connection with life.
Coming alive is jumping out of the pot before it’s too late. It’s risking scrutiny and judgement, challenging the voices that question our worth, our value, our right to come alive now, in the present moment. Too often, people’s response to my urging has been, but how can I come alive when all around me are endless struggles, suffering and injustices? And to that I say, it is precisely because of this that you must come alive.
Come alive to bring more light into the world. Come alive so there this more beauty, more joy, more connection in the world. Come alive in response to the gift of life your ancestors passed on to you. Come alive so that the children can know what aliveness is as they grow up. Come alive so that our Nation, our world knows that true liberty belongs to us all.