“Find the marriage of meaning and matter in life and in the world.” Oriah Mountain Dreamer says that’s what we ache for—to touch and truly know the “fire of being fully alive.” It’s true. Being alive (truly alive) seems to be the ultimate goal, even though it can be hard to express what that means or looks like.
What is “being fully alive”?
Today, for me anyway, being fully alive is noticing the way the sun casts dappled light and shadow through still bare tree branches. It’s coming through the window, making dancing shapes on the table, and on part of my left hand. I’m sitting in a wooden chair, the air dry and warm by the wood stove. The fire crackles as it gains strength. The early arrival sandhill cranes and geese trill and honk as they soar overhead, making their way back home again as winter melts away. The smell of woodsmoke lingers in the air when I step outside, and the seasonal stream trickles in the ravine by the south side of the house. Vibrant green moss peeks out from the patches of snow that linger, and tiny water droplets hang on newly unfurled spores. Being still enough to notice these things, these ordinary details, is what makes me feel fully alive.
Sometimes, though, it’s moving quickly on foot or bike that does it, the rush of wind on my face a reminder of aliveness. Sometimes it’s the giggle or earnest comment from my child—the marvel of her existence and evolution into her own personhood a continual astonishment. Sometimes it’s picking a ripe tomato or digging through wet soil until I find a treasure trove of purple potatoes. Sometimes it’s the buzz of deer flies as I try to stay one step ahead of them on the trail. Sometimes it’s air that feels too hot or too cold, or the way spongy moss claims the shadowy parts of the yard.
Somehow it all comes back to noticing. To rejecting the pull to numb the unwanted. To be willing to open up to the uncertain wonder of walking through a forest at dawn, fog rising from the lake, day stretching out like a canvas waiting for the combination of noticings that will transform it from blank slate to something lovingly and curiously created from the raw stuff of living.
What makes you feel fully alive?