Feeling alive came natural as a kid — a time when we live a life of learning and adventure as we explore and master our worlds. We venture out bravely, don’t know the rules, adapt as we go, and have fun living out our fantasies of being courageous heroes and heroines who do good for others.
Somewhere along the way conformity and compliance become the rule — about the time we go to school, I imagine. I believe from then on many of us sacrifice much of our courage and authenticity as we try to fit in to be accepted by others in order to “succeed.”
Perhaps like you, I’ve always chafed against the rules of conformity and compliance even as I’ve tried to find a place for myself in this world. I’ve taken a long journey to regain my natural and authentic sense of purpose.
In the middle of my life, I left the pseudo-safety of the paternalistic corporate world that demanded more dumbing down than I could stand and set out to create a new life for myself. I was not a wealthy man and my choice to venture out alone was not without risk. I realized that if I failed financially no one would remember in a few short years. But if I did not take the journey into the unknown, I would live with my cowardice and the disappointment of my own unfulfilled potential for eternity (See my post Life as Art: What Do I Want?).
Today, almost 20 years after I began my adventure filled journey, I am grateful for good health; a happy marriage; children and grandchildren I love; two great dogs; financial security; and time to do the things I love. And yet, I still pay attention to my inner stirrings and live my life in such a way as to renew myself often and naturally.
Such a journey of self-discovery beckons many today-not necessarily the external changes that I made but the inner growth of awareness and consciousness. The world struggles in the midst of many transformations with outcomes unknown. Seemingly unsolvable problems threaten our way of life. Regressive politicians try to return us to a world that no longer exists. Technology threatens our humanity. Our previous life paths exist no more. We cannot go back. We must seek out new journeys for ourselves.
The details of each person’s journey are exclusive to them but each of us shares the goals of deeper authenticity, a noble life of integrity, and the expression of our unique contribution to life. We want to feel alive. The inner work is hard. Perhaps as difficult as anything a human being will do in life — as a person, leader, or follower. This personal development requires the courage of a pioneer, the honesty of a child, the imagination of an artist, and the confidence of the naïve, and often begins from deep despair, disillusionment, and a fundamental change of mind. The journey gives one a special energy and changes the traveler forever.
We become the artists of our own lives. We plan as best we can, take bold action, reflect on what happens, and adapt our next steps. Our creative process is messy, inefficient, and non-linear and it redefines us. We stay true to our values and our purpose in life and expand our vision for life as we move toward it. We become artists in redefinition. We create, and we feel alive.
Feeling alive isn’t just about feeling good. Feeling alive is about feeling all of the life around us.