To Be Fully Alive

There’s the place I go sometimes when I’m nervous and excited. Maybe it’s a 1000-yard stare at the start of a race. Maybe it a desire to be quite still before an important presentation. Maybe it’s a total lack of self-consciousness when my friends and I are getting ready to tackle something really difficult. Or maybe it’s the pep talk I give myself before a big test of any kind.

I love times like these. They remind us of how far we’ve come to get to where we are. And that we are fully alive.

Yesterday my friends and I went to a snow-covered state park and ran from peak to peak, sloshing through ice cold water, occasionally falling down, with our feet numb. Every single step required full attention, lest we trip over the ever-present rocks and roots. There really wasn’t a minute when we could afford to be less than attentive. When we had traversed the 10 miles, we changed into warm clothes, sat on the asphalt, and ate the most delicious food.

We seldom regret the times we opened our lives up to expansion. Everything worthwhile and bigger than before is the result of someone’s courage and imagination. We can choose growth or we can choose comfort. We cannot have both at the same time.

I have spent the night talking with a friend only to be surprised by the sunrise. I have been packed into a crowd half my age singing along with a rock band in front of the stage. I have listened to a friend cry, lamenting decisions made long ago. All of these things helped me see my place in the world. One of the joys of getting older is that you know yourself better, and the better you know yourself, the easier everything becomes.

We always in danger of accepting our fate, going through the motions, or sleepwalking through life. Don’t do it. Take your fate and turn it into destiny.

Be extravagant with grace. Try new things. Dance, even if you’re a little unsure. In short, when facing the life choices between comfort or growth, choose growth.

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