Being Alive

A while back I came across a quote that really resonated with me:

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough”
~ William Saroyan

Toilet YogaI’d read something similar years ago in Way of the Peaceful Warrior, my personal “bible.”  In it the character Socrates encouraged Dan to “meditate every moment,” regardless of what it was; eating, working, urinating, etc.  And he, too, recommended the emotional healthiness of feeling what you feel, no matter the emotion.

This is something I strive for in my life, and I’m happy to say that I actually achieve it every now and then.  There are times when I’m cooking that I become so in the moment that it’s as if it’s not really me doing the cooking or slicing, but rather that I’m one with the dish being prepared.  I know it might seem an esoteric concept to some, but chances are you’ve all felt it at one point in your life; where you have no thoughts about whatever it is you’re doing.  Your mind is clear and open, and you can “see” exactly how something is going to look/sound/taste before you’ve even finished it.

There are other places where I haven’t yet achieved this level of concentration.  When I drive, for instance, there’s normally music playing, or I’m on the phone with someone, or else I’m in such a rush to get wherever I’m going that I get frustrated at the pace of traffic, rather than becoming one with the traffic and letting it take me where I want to be.

I’m also not great at being mindful when I eat, though Weight Watchers and numerous other healthcare pundits espouse the benefits of doing so.  I haven’t yet found the peace in “eating a meal in silence,” “slowly chewing my food,” or “savoring each bite.”  To me, those all sound like pretty words, but whenever I actually try to do it, all I feel is bored.  In our current state of near-instant gratification and overly crowded agendas, the thought of taking the recommended 20-30 minutes to eat a meal seems like an eternity, and sometimes a “waste” of time that could be spent completing some other task on our to do lists.

But I think that’s why the collective we need to heed the words of Socrates from Way and Mr. Saroyan, and take the time to really be in whatever moment we’re experiencing.  We’ve become so disconnected from ourselves in our search to “connect” with everyone and everything else on this planet, that we don’t hear when our bodies tell us that it needs a rest, or that a certain type of food hurts our internal organs, or when we are unhappy with how someone is treating us (especially when its us who is doing the mistreating).

Think what could transpire if we all took the time and patience to truly LIVE each and every moment.  How much more spectacular would each experience be?  Yes, that means the painful experiences would be that much more painful, but I believe we’d be able to get past the pain quicker, if we allowed ourselves to really feel it when it hit us.  I think our emotional pain lingers because we’re afraid to wallow in its depths.  Kind of like how they say that jumping into a cool pool is better than wading in inch by inch, because your body gets over the initial shock faster.  By wading in, you keep subjecting your body to that shock multiple times, rather than having just one big shock.  I think the same is true of our emotions.

So I will continue to try to live my life as vibrantly as I can.  To feel the deepest recess of every emotion.  To embrace every experience fully.  And yes, eventually even learn how to truly enjoy my food by eating it slowly and without distractions.

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