30 Jan This Gorgeous Dance
I went on a really killer walk today. My dog and I moved at a relaxed pace, up a mountainside that was been in my hometown for thousands of years. It’s a trail I thought I knew very well, as I have walked/ran/hiked it so many times before. Today, however, was one of the first times I really stopped to look around at my surroundings. I’ve always noticed the big lake and the mountains as a whole, but never before had I deeply looked at the colors of the trees, at the way the wind danced through their branches. I did not intend to have a meditative walk, but that’s how it ended up evolving. What I saw blew me away, and any silent passerby observing me may have thought that I was stoned. I was high, high on life.
We hear the statement, “high on life,” and immediately think of some corny sixth grade teacher advising us against drug use. Speaking as somebody who has removed mind-altering substances from her body for nearly three years ago, I tell you it is so possible to be high on life and so much more exhilarating that anything you could ever experience. Today I felt my feet touching the earth beneath me, each step I took reverberating up my shins, into the joints of my knees, up my quadracep muscles. My butt strained as I moved slowly but surely up steep terrain. Little thought passed through my mind as I breathed in the sweetest January air. It was brisk enough to refresh me, a quenching drink of water for my skin. Everywhere I looked, trees graciously offered shade along the path up the hill; I mean there were so many effing trees on this hike! (Side note, “effing” is now a dictionary-approved word. Go America).
One of the few thoughts I had today was about the trees. I wondered how long they had been there. I wondered how many human beings they had experienced in their presence, day in and day out, and how many human beings thanked them for the shade. I realize that comparison is very similar to the story of The Giving Tree, to which I give complete copyright respect and do not claim that idea as whole-heartedly original and my own. But really, these trees were spectacular. Some of them barely see light, and yet grow in curves and beautiful intricacies throughout the forest to accommodate this limited nourishment. They do not continue on a straight path upward, towards the sun, but they bend and twist as life deals them storms and wind and erosion and all the other elements they are born to face during their years on the planet, which far surpass our human ones. They live for hundreds of years, during all kinds of weather patterns and oxygen availabilities and I could have stared at these trees for hours. So I did.
“Life is this gorgeous dance between contrasting elements. We have days of bliss followed by days of peril, we have interactions that leave us feeling refreshed and alive and others that leave us feeling tired and worn.”
They got me thinking about being alive, and how living can often be mistaken for dying. If you’re a person of high sensitivity, not unlike myself, you’ll know how deathly alive you feel when talking with somebody to whom you’re attracted. A true attraction can feel like the body is approaching death. The heart races and the palms of your hands begin to sweat. You have to remind yourself to breathe, to be fully present for each moment, because that is how life unfolds to you. The times you feel like you are most dying are probably the times when you feel most alive. Maybe that’s part of the allure behind adrenaline junkies. Being alive feels fucking amazing, even on the days when your emotions might be on the sadder end of the spectrum. I used to prohibit myself from feeling anything in this body- whether it be fear, grief, abandonment, excitement, happiness, or security. Each day arrives as both a challenge and a gift, another opportunity to experience this life without any alteration. Another chance to be fully here for the people around me, as we all just want to know that we’re not here alone.
Life is this gorgeous dance between contrasting elements. We have days of bliss followed by days of peril, we have interactions that leave us feeling refreshed and alive and others that leave us feeling tired and worn. Every single day, we are awake and alive by some miracle, for having been born at all is more rare than being struck by lightening. We are witness to the existence of other lives all around us, all the time. Being aware of that, and feeling those lives as part of your own is true connection.
Do not sell yourself short and disconnect yourself from the seemingly troubling emotions of life, because anything that takes you away from that moment will also prohibit you from feeling blissful fulfillment that arrives when a different moment fills its place. There is no in-between state. You cannot “kind-of” feel life. You either let yourself feel it, all of it, or feel nothing at all. As scary as it is to feel sometimes, feelings cannot kill us. I choose life and I choose to meet it with as much curiosity and compassion as possible, because it is a miracle that any of us are even here at all.
That’s what I thought about today. To what did you give your attention?
PS. here’s a few songs I’ve been listening to 🙂
Let’s Talk Transcendentalism,