alive /əˈlaɪv/ Show Spelled[uh-lahyv]
having life; living; existing; not dead or lifeless.
living (used for emphasis): the proudest man alive.
in a state of action; in force or operation; active: to keep hope alive.
full of energy and spirit; lively: Grandmother’s more alive than most of her contemporaries.
having the quality of life; vivid; vibrant: The room was alive with color.
a few years i back i had a friend of mine look at the current state of her life, which was that her car had broke down on the side of the freeway, she was losing her job, and her and her boyfriend had just split-up! and her reaction makes perfect sense, she said: ” my life is falling apart!”
i think if i was in her situation, i might have responded the same. ever sense that moment and her words though, it has made me think about how we define our alives, or even what it means to be alive. we tend to look like the woman above did to inanimate things, lifeless things as objects that determine how valuable our life is or isn’t. for some, their life worth is determined whether they get this one job, or if they make it on American Idol, or if their refrigerator breaks down and they have to buy groceries all over again!
i don’t want to minimize the importance of the events above or even seem to trivialize events like them, but i do want us to see how we have come to define life. that for most of us we get into the ruts because things aren’t working out the way we think they should. and because the events or objects aren’t working to our presupposed maximum expectations, than our lives either don’t make sense or we feel less alive. so for most of us, alive isn’t about breathing, its about being in control. when we are in control of our world, and things goes ‘as planned’ (which really means: ‘how i want them to go’) then we feel alive. we enjoy life. but when it doesn’t we feel like we’ve lost our electricity. we’ve lost our juice, our fire for life has left.
the ancient hebrew poets believed that as we breathe in and breathe out that we were inhaling and exhaling the holy breath that god gave each of us. that each breathe was a holy act and recognition that we are not only on borrowed breath, but that we can proclaim together that we ‘alive!’ electricity is a surge of life. it brings life into wherever it is. it sustains life. for us to embrace our electricity means we also bring that electricity into the lives of others. it means we see that life isn’t summed up by what we have, dont’ have or how in control we are. that to be alive means to be fully aware. fully responsible with the divine act of breathing we have been given for our 75 years.
In the movie ‘Holy Man’, Eddie Murphy plays a guru who shares some of his wisdom, one part of the movie shows him talking to the audience on the frailty of life and that the realization of who short is, spurs us to do something — now! listen in:
“Seventy-five years. That’s
how much time you get if you’re lucky.
Being alive means being alive right now. we don’t wait to be alive. we are alive. how we choose to live it helps determine how alive we are while we are still breathing. there always going to be things distracting, creating fear, creating joy even, but being alive means we have to make choices.
being alive means we accept the responsibility to be alive. to breathe in and breathe out. go ahead, breathe in and breathe out. and then go and find ways to incarnate that respiration. find ways to engage with the world. with others, strangers, family members, flowers, trees, books, songs. jump into the scandalous electricity that is life!!
seventy-five springtimes, seventy-five
summers and seventy-five autumns.
When you look at it like that,
it’s not a lot of time, is it?
Don’t waste them.
Get your head out of the rat race…
and forget about the superficial things
that preoccupy your existence…
and get back
to what’s important now.
Right now, this very second.”