When do you feel the most ‘alive’? What causes those moments when your life force reaches a higher plane? Can you imagine what life must be like for people who never experience truly sublime moments of existence?
Think about it. Going through life is like swimming through the water of consciousness. Once in a while something happens or you do something extraordinary or some quirky combination of circumstances occur and you’re thrust upward out of your normal depth and you get a brief breath of the rarified air above.
The light is different, sounds are more clear, the veils are lifted and Flash! Aha! Eureka! You have one of those defining moments of insight that puts your everyday existence into perspective. You hold on to the memory of those moments like precious gems, the most valuable cargo in the metaphysical suitcase that accompanies you through life.
Ideally, you figure out ways to access these higher realms of consciousness on demand. You learn some skills, develop a talent, pay your dues in some way or another so that you know that the feeling of being “all the way alive” is within reach, even if only on special occasions.
Different strokes for different folks, right? No two paths to Nirvana are the same. But here’s the rub. Some poor folks on this planet are missing the boat. You’re probably one of the lucky ones that has some different ways to light up your vibrance and shine. The keys are creativity, service, passion, contribution and the like.
For me, it’s things like playing just the right record at just the right moment and a chill runs up my spine as one of my old musical ‘friends’ hits home with my live-stream listeners or in-person dancers. It’s the feeling that I get when a concept for a sculpture gels and the idea finds a patron in the real world to make it happen. And again later on when I’m deep in the project and I’m over the hump of all the problem-solving, the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight, and I know that the finished piece is spectacular.
It’s when I’m serving someone as an advisor and I come up with a contribution that opens a whole new door for them. Writing and publishing words that I know will make a difference to someone. Or simply being kind to a stranger or unfortunate soul in some random and unconditional sort of way. It feels great to be alive and I’m grateful every time I really notice.
It’s been on my mind lately because I can’t help but keep up with current events and the news. I got to thinking about all of the reprehensible figures out there populating the sordid events of the day. You know the ones — politicians drunk on power, criminals crazed with corruption, businesses running roughshod over the planet — in other words real people who somehow decide to do mean, cruel, dishonest, and destructive things to other real people and our world at large.
And I got to thinking about how many kind and caring people are dismayed, disgusted, and downright furious at the personalities behind our worst problems. I mean, to hell with these evildoers, right? How dare they? It’s only natural to default to anger when things that you care about are stolen, people that you love are hurt, or the Mother Earth that begat us is trampled.
So the question in my mind became: Why? What’s so different about the consciousness of someone who’s content to be cruel, uncaring, or corrupt? Then it dawned on me. They don’t know what it feels like to be truly alive. Not once in their lives have they truly grokked the meaning of gratitude. Their souls have never been washed with tears of joy. So, beyond our anger, they have earned our pity.
I’m not sure whether it would be accurate to describe it as confusion or a flaw in thinking. Surely some unfortunates have a traumatic upbringing or environment to factor in. But they have a different sort of “feeling alive” that is masquerading as the real thing and something is so damaged inside that they either can’t or won’t reach for the real thing. Some may not even believe it exists.
The fact is, there’s a thrill to stealing something. There’s a rush to cheating. Cruelty provides a twisted pleasure. The feeling of “getting over on someone” or “getting away with it” is seductive and habit-forming. But these sordid stimulants are placebos at best, saccharine compared to the real sweetness of being alive. In reality, they’re a trap. The downward spiral is like a whirlpool, once you’re in it it’s hard to back out.
It hit me the other night while I was spinning records on my online live-stream. Someone in the chat shared an anecdote about a moment with the artist I was playing and I recognized it as one of those high points that makes a good life worth living. I said “Be glad, because we’ve got something that these crooks that we’re up against have either never felt or forgotten.”
The gulf between those of us who live in the light of love and kindness and those transactional-types whose go-to is greed is not an easy bridge to cross. Sharp rocks of anger, grief, and sadness lie between. But whenever we can steer someone towards an authentic moment of aliveness, or even just give them a clue, we’re giving them the chance to take the high road and be part of the solution.
May your week be creative, grateful, and free! See you next Monday!
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine