I sat in a chair, looking out the window at kids playing soccer in the rain. I could have stayed there—sheltered and warm—and secretly wishing I was running with them. My hair would have stayed dry and neat, my clothes spotlessly clean. But I joined them. Because I have learned that those types of decisions don’t just allow you to live, but allow you to be alive.
I will never regret the dark green streaks that stained my clothes or the bruise on my knee from taking that sliding kick on the wet grass—for in that moment—I was a fifth grader again. Running in the rain. Being Alive.
That soggy day, the adults took the picnic inside but the kids knew the best place to be was still outside. It was an example of how often adults chose comfort over a sweaty face and racing heart. That instance reminded me of other times where I could have taken the comfortable route, but didn’t. Times when I chose to…..
…Leave the warm air along the banks and plunge into the icy water of Angel Falls in Rangeley Maine;
…Face my anxiety of heights (and a massive wedgie), and conquer the ”Geronimo” waterslide;
…Hike ‘Sleeping Giant’ twice in one week, just to feel the challenge of the blue trail in my legs and lungs;
And farther from home, when I chose to....
…Brave the voracious mosquitoes and sleep outside under the black Alaskan sky punctured by a billion stars;
…Spend a month in a small hut in the East African Bush, lulled to sleep by trumpeting elephants;
…Ponder the true absence of sound (and heat), tenting on the ice sheet in Greenland.
Some time ago I ran across a quote by Joseph Campbell and it resonated with me. Campbell wrote “I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”
Perhaps when much of the human, bustling, judging, hurrying world is asleep or day dreaming, their souls try to remind them—to take more risks, to allow yourself to feel the cold on your skin, and the earth under your nails. That being alive is experienced in discrete moments.
It’s about pushing limits and appreciating connections to others and nature. It’s about feeling uncomfortable, so that we really know what true comfort is. Wet clothes and grass stains, tents and stars, mosquitoes and sore muscles. Being alive is about high-fives between muddy girls with decades of numbers between them—yet connected by a timeless bond, an invisible fabric they are woven into. Life, right here, right now.
The most beautiful people I know are the ones who have remembered how to be alive. Because genuine beauty originates from happiness within. Happiness attained not by entertainment, but by experiencing true pleasure. The pleasure that comes from choosing to run in the rain.
Comment with your own experiences….. Do you simply live your life? Or do you savor moments of being alive?