What makes you feel REALLY alive?
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
When do you feel really alive? I mean, REALLY alive. So alive that maybe you forget about everything else?
This came up recently after I spent the afternoon swimming with my oldest grandchild. She has discovered the joy of diving to the bottom of the pool with a mask on. It seems simple but she really enjoys it. I think she would do it for hours without stop.
And she allows me to share in that joy. We will dive to the bottom, pose with our arms crossed, then drift to the top. Or we will retrieve toys on the bottom just because we can. We smile, we laugh, we hold hands, then down we go again.
When I saw photos of the two of us her dad took with an underwater camera, the thought popped into my mind — that’s what being really alive is all about. Joy. Simplicity. Lost in the moment.
A great bike ride does that for me, too. When you’re grinding up a steep hill, every thought, every bit of energy is put into that task. It doesn’t have to be something fun (some of those hills definitely aren’t fun) but it reminds me that I’m alive.
Did you ever laugh so hard that your stomach hurts? At that moment, you really don’t think about your problems, about life’s difficulties. You are in the moment.
Really being alive isn’t always the safe place. Maybe my definition of really being alive doesn’t amount to much more than being so engaged in what you’re doing that you forget everything else.
That can include fear, heartache, and disappointment.
But isn’t that what tells us that we are alive? The ability to feel, to experience? We aren’t promised that it will always be easy, just that we can get through good times and bad.
A friend sent me this quote: “One of the biggest tragedies in life is to just settle ...”
I like that. We shouldn’t “settle” for whatever is handed to us, the life that someone expects us to live. It is up to us to explore new worlds, to dream our dreams, and to live our life to the fullest. I believe that is what is expected of us. And it requires us to often get out of our comfort zone.
I think another huge tragedy is to work at a job that you don’t like. A job that you dread. That when the alarm goes off in the morning, you would rather do anything than go to work.
Back in college, I wasn’t interested in getting rich and famous. I just wanted a job that I could enjoy. At first, it was wildlife management, but mostly because I thought I could hunt and fish for a living. That didn’t work out.
It took a knee injury to point me in the right direction (see “silver lining”). Now, when the alarm goes off, I can hardly wait to get to the office to see what patients are on my schedule, to discover the day’s challenges. I don’t even know how the snooze button works.
So, back to my original question ... what makes you feel really alive?
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)