Tuesday, November 16, 2010

5. On doing what fills you

I was planning a philosophical entry on the natures of time and space (really I was), but as I lay here in a warmed-up hoodie underneath my bed's covers, I find that I'm currently not up for the task. Besides, another subject is tugging at me, one that I've been mulling over all day.

As I write this, I am listening to "A Time Before," by John Fluker, on the album The Sound of Peace. The instrumentals are so beautiful that I can barely stand how full I am with feeling this beauty-- I am nearly crying. Just by listening to music, I am almost crying.

This, I think, is the origination of the concept of "so good it hurts." But I think that feeling of hurt is, perhaps more accurately, a feeling of fullness.

Which is not to say that it doesn't hurt, sometimes. Our bodies are such piddling containers for the volume of... lifeness that any human can feel; it's a tight squeeze, and I don't know about you but sometimes I feel like I could just burst wide open.

I think that we've been created (by whom/whatever entity or processes you believe in) with this in mind, and have been given/evolved some mechanisms-- tears, laughter, movement, art, our voice-- for releasing the pressures of this fullness. Without this release, I believe, we either break under the intensity of human experience or shrivel up inside so that we are no longer experiencing hardly anything at all (or at least not Experiencing with a capital "E").

For a while I chose the shriveled-up-dead-and-dying route (see: When Ic Ruled the Roost, or post #3), but I'm not okay with that any more. Gradually, in the past couple of years, I've been coming back to Life. This is a difficult process, however, because we are constantly sold Death in all kinds of tantalizing disguises (thank you, Capitalism and your consumerist imperative. Also thank you MTV).

So I've been thinking a lot about how to feast on as much Life as possible without being swayed or deceived by the seeming allure of Death. And I'm beginning to think that the way to stay close to Life is to seek out those thing/activities/experiences that make you feel so full you could cry. This is life, this is the heartland, this is juicy-oh-sweet-oh-succulent-even-when-it-hurts-it's-good-yes.

Therefore I am trying to pay attention to what makes me feel alive. The first goal here, as always, is simply to be aware. The proximal goal is to begin to shape my life so that it is full of fullness: Cut out all of the wasteful bullshit that makes you feel numb, or uninspired, or like a drone on autopilot, or like there's nothing meaningful or good in this world, any more. Because that's simply not the case. But knowing this to be true requires actively cultivating a life that allows for the experience of life. And so, without further ado, I present here in no particular order what is only the beginning of a list of things/activities/experiences that make me feel so alive that I could cry:

 -listening to really good music (a couple of artists that come immediately to mind: Band of Horses, the Avett Brothers, any number of classical instrumentalists, Amos Lee, The Tallest Man on Earth, Bright Eyes, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Decemberists, and then some)

-reading good poetry (Mary Oliver and Rumi are two of my favorites)

-reading anything that affirms what I know also to be True (I don't mean things that are in line with my political ideology. I would never claim that my political stance is the only "true" one. Here I am referring to the personal Truth that I believe is contained within each of us.* This is different for every human being, but I also believe in overlap. And when someone else's art-- their articulation of their own truth-- mirrors something inside of me, well... that can nearly make me cry)

-collaborating with a team of creative people on creative projects (music, art, writing)

-walking through the woods. also sitting in the woods. especially sitting by creeks in the woods.

-pretty much doing anything in nature



-meditation (on the rare occasion that I can actually stay present for it)

-Taize services


-seeing people learn and grow

-going exploring

-adventuring. getting lost and eventually finding my way again

-climbing things

-seeing people treat each other kind

I will continue adding to this list. And I hereby resolve that I will begin to shape my days around those things which really fill me up, those things which make me feel Alive. Because when I am Alive, not only I am filled-- not satiated, but satisfied-- but I am also so much better able to give of myself. By becoming a more life-filled human being, I infuse this world with life. The world could use it, to be sure. The awful irony here is that life is available to us in boundless supply-- but we have to pay attention to it, and we have to let it enter us if we've any hope of being fed.

* This is a touchy subject, and a difficult word to employ because it carries so much baggage in the form of loaded connotations. Your interpretation here is your own. Likewise I mean the word as I do.

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