Monday, May 9, 2016
Feeling Alive, Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Joseph Campbell has famously mused that we human beings are possibly not so much seeking the meaning of life as we are striving for the experience of being alive. We have to go through the motions of staying alive for a good portion of our lives that includes eating, drinking, working and sleeping. For millions of people in third world countries there isn’t much time for doing anything but surviving. However, these people are also spared the constant distraction of all the noise and disruption that comes with modern urban life such as all the electronics, jobs and activity. On more than one occasion I’ve dragged my body into the house after work and announced that I’m brain dead.
Perhaps the time is far overdue to take a time out and seek those experiences of actually appreciating that we’re alive and living in this mystical universe. There may be some universal experiences that qualify for most everybody and there must be some that are unique to an individual or a group of people in specific cultures in different parts of the world.
I think the trick would be to find a quiet time and place to really stop life’s merry-go-round and sit silently while remembering those moments in your life when you felt that every cell of your being was blissfully alive. I’m sure any moment of tender love would qualify for just about everyone. Walking in the raw moods of nature with the wind in your face along with sun, rain, snow and radical temperatures certainly gets your attention. Listening to a full orchestra performing the classical language of God heightens our senses There’s a real sense of being alive when standing in front of a Van Gogh impressionist painting and letting the artist take you through the swirling olive orchards, across to the shadowy hay stacks and into fields of waving wheat with menacing black crows flying overhead. Sitting in a dark theater in London and experiencing a performance of Les Miserable takes you down an emotional gauntlet. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee where he fed the 5,000 was a very alive experience. My first flying experience in a business jet as we gracefully glided around massive Midwestern thunderheads was awesome. A pensive moment of relationship with our Creator connects us with the ultimate source of life. When you pause to reflect, these moments come alive as well.
Being alive is a priceless gift that should be appreciated and not squandered or ignored. It’s a sad legacy to have lived one of those lives of quiet desperation. Certainly seeking those times of feeling intensely alive can involve risk as well as reward. But that risk is everything to being human.