A little over a year ago it was a dark weeknight evening in the deepest end of winter. I was tucked under my blankets in my drafty third floor apartment, glowing computer screen on my lap, finished dinner plate cast aside. Another workday had come to an end, the kind that leaves you feeling empty and dissatisfied and like something big is missing from the pit of your stomach. The kind that happened more often than not.
How many post-work nights had I spent that way?
I won't say. But many. So many.
As I mindlessly scrolled through social media with Netflix looping in the background (this was my attempt at decompression that almost always failed), I came upon a story of a young girl, a humanitarian, killed by ISIS. Twenty-six years old, almost my age, similar interests -- very different stories.
She was working in various far away countries, administering aid and comforting refugees and spreading love. I was working a job I disliked in a situation that felt stale and boring and lifeless.
Reading Kayla's story was like being revived with those electric paddles, the kind that jump start your heart.
My heart was jump started.
Suddenly it felt suffocating and insufferable to remain as I was. Physically, emotionally, all of it. Suddenly it felt as if I'd been in that bed on that work night with Netflix and Facebook and dirty dinner plates for years on end, and I was practically in shock at the absurdity of it all.
Why didn't I die at 26? Why should Kayla Mueller who was doing incredible work for the goodness of humanity be killed, and not me? What made us any different? What if I died next week? Or next month? Or tomorrow? Would I feel like I'd done enough? Would I have felt alive when I was alive, before I was dead?
(Read more about my reaction to Kayla Mueller's death here.)
It very abruptly felt as if I needed to do something. Something, anything, to remind me that I was alive. That I was existing for more than boredom and paralysis and distraction. That there was a much larger world out there, that other people existed in far off places, millions and billions of people, people very unlike me.
That decided it.
Right then and there, I decided to choose aliveness.
The other night I got a ride on the back of a man's motorbike up a mountain to my hostel in the pouring rain. I arrived drenched, cold, and very much alive.
Two days before that I was in the mud with six real life elephants, feeling their rough skin and looking into their eyes and contemplating how large and intelligent these beings were. I felt exhilarated, satisfied, and very much alive.
A week ago I was floating through a warm swimming pool in the darkening dusk by myself with a beer. I swam feeling free, peaceful, and very much alive.
Three weeks ago I was driving through the dense jungle on a motorbike, feeling the pockets of cool air rush past me as the lush trees rose up on either side of me. I felt elated, spirited, and very much alive.
Six weeks ago I was waiting to board a plane in New York to start a huge adventure in Southeast Asia, totally unaware of what would follow. I felt terrified, excited, and very much alive.
When I chose aliveness and decided to go to the other side of the world alone, I was fiercely protecting my heart and my desires. It felt like life or death. Yes or no.
I knew I needed to go.
When I thought about it, my body lit up. From then on, I supported myself in whatever way possible to make this happen. In this taking good care of myself, it allowed for aliveness, for life, for vitality.
I felt like I was truly living.
Compared to those post-work nights spent under the covers in bed barely living, this, this was life. Saying yes. Defending my heart.
Being purposely alive.
Here I am after that late night motor bike ride in the rain, drenched and with smudgy makeup and out of breath.
But so incredibly alive.
Want to join us for Purposely Alive? It's ten days of getting curious about how you can support yourself more deeply while feeling connected and in your body -- alive.
We start this Friday, May 6th. Grab your spot today to get the early bird special -- $19 rather than $23! Tomorrow the price will go up. Find all the details here.
I'm looking forward to gathering so soon!