What is this experience of living on this Pale Blue Dot?
As you think about careers, your contribution and what you love to do, what is at the nucleus is connecting with what is alive in you.
To me, the feeling of being alive I can see when I look back at my life. At the births of each of my children, I felt connected to something larger than myself. The experience also seemed to occupy every cell in my body.
When I completed a walk-a-thon as a teenager, while my body was tired, it was also tingling with all of the excitement of what I had accomplished. I also felt alive when my heart was broken. The feeling of being alive is painful and joyful, ordinary and extraordinary and so much more.
Can you think of a time when you felt truly alive? How would you describe the feeling?
A few days ago, I returned from Portland where I attended the World Domination Summit. As you can tell from the name, it is an event that is full of big ideas. The question behind the summit is, “How do you lead a remarkable life in a conventional world?”
The speakers, attendees and organizers have a good helping of curiosity, enthusiasm, and wanting to contribute to the world. And so they are – from creative endeavours to community involvement to personal challenges. It is all about having that full experience of being alive.
Lots of ideas. I know this is what makes me feel alive, turning that object in my hand over and over so I can see it from all sides. One of the speakers, Lissa Rankin who explores the idea of finding our calling asked, “What is that thing that called you when you were less than 10?”
I loved everything about books and school supplies. I was awed by our local library and had a goal to read every one of those books. I began with A. Lucky for me, I was the eldest of 4 children so I had my ready-made classroom where I could teach what I was learning.
That curiosity about how things worked was well rooted by the time I was 10. I wanted to understand the world, what patterns arose and how it all fit together. I can see now that the careers I chose had those elements. Astroarchaeologist. Homeschooler. Computer Instructor. Career Passionista.
How old were you when you discovered that core part of you that needed to be expressed? What mattered to you?
From that place, you can get some good clues about what it means to be alive and in particular what taps into that well of aliveness.
When I am in yoga class, I get a real sense of being alive in a body way that spills into other aspects of me. Being so present in a moment, to see the beauty, to tap into the wonder of it all is available to us at any time. The feeling of being alive is never far away.
Your feelings of being alive can be felt on a physical level but it is also emotional, mental and spiritual. Your sense of being alive is usually when you are engaged versus when you are participating passively such as TV or web surfing. The appeal of extreme sports like bungee jumping and zip lining, is connected to that whole sense of being alive, having a full body experience.
Music, art, dance and other ways of self expression connects us to feeling alive. If you were to think of it in one word, perhaps it would be “yes!” You see it in others, the sparkle in their eye, the brightening of their face, a sense of full engagement.
Tapping into the feeling of being alive begins when you are young and newly discovering the world to hopefully the day that you die. As you discover more about the wonders of this world, getting into contact with aliveness grows and grows. It is a part of your curiosity.
The journey is both individual and full of companions. Your aliveness is invigorated when you find your tribe, the group of people that share your passions. Whether it is being a part of an Olympic team or a book club, the interchange and exchange of ideas brings you alive. It often spills over into other areas of your life. Getting hooked on the notion that you want to reach your fullest potential, you are excited when you see that happening in others.
As you begin to consider your "brilliant career," I encourage you to spend some time getting a sense of that feeling, even if it is hard to describe in words. Where do you feel it in your body? What kind of quality does it exude?
This is your guidepost. When you are in danger of straying away from yourself, this is what you come back to, to help you get on the path. On your path. Your own unique path.
Below are some links to inspire you as you consider what makes you feel alive:
Falling In Love With Your Own Life
Ted Talk - Louie Schwartzberg – Founder, Blacklight Films
40 Ways to Feel More Alive
Tiny Buddha – Lori Deschene
When Death Comes
Reading by Mary Oliver
Pale Blue Dot