Come Alive

Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.

Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?

It is the 6th day of the 30-day writing challenge and the third time already that mortality has featured prominently in the prompt. 15 minutes to live, one week to live, one place to travel before you die. I get it, the whole “live each day like it’s your last; one day you’re bound to be right.” But here’s the thing…”to do” lists are not meant for the person with one week left to live. While the goal is to live fully in each moment, we can’t always live for the moment. Sometimes we have to live for the future. If I truly had one week left to live, I certainly wouldn’t get a mammogram, my car’s oil changed or my teeth cleaned. I wouldn’t plant a garden, and I wouldn’t have children (if I didn’t already) cause gardens and babies imply hope for the future. I wouldn’t go to work (even though I love my job), and I wouldn’t save my money. “So much of life is spent preparing to live”….really it’s about maintenance. Taking care of our bodies, our houses, preparing food and cleaning up afterwards. The little things. There is nothing wrong with that.

In yoga, we seek the spot between effort and ease. Life is about seeking that same balance. Expand and contract. In general, one feels more pleasurable than the other. But the ease is enhanced, indeed is only truly understood, when it is partnered with the effort. I work so hard in a yoga class precisely for the experience of release I feel in savasana. Working hard during the school year is what makes the summers off so delicious, so expansive. It’s the release from the contraction into the expansion that makes the expansion feel great.

So, while I get the gist of this, I don’t agree that our lives should be spent doing only things that make us come alive. It’s not the right goal. The goal should be balance, an appreciation of every moment in our lives, whether exhilarating or mundane, whether engaged in a necessary task like doing the dishes or enjoying something that makes your heart sing like (for me) skiing a gigantic, rocky mountain on a sunny day with friends.

If I did have just one week left to live I would spend my savings and take family and friends skiing in a beautiful location. I’d eat as much chocolate mousse as I could find. That’s it, just expansion, fun and ease. Doesn’t sound like much of a life, though.

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