I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen Orion’s Belt these past several months. Waking early, before the Sun has pierced the sky with its golden brilliance, each time I step outside and hop on my bike I can’t help but lift my gaze to the sky. Struck by the breathtaking beauty of stars pulsing in the deep, velvety stretches of black, I’m left amazed that we live in this world. We’re resting within a swirling vortex of stars being pulled in tightly by a black hole on a planet floating through space that we call home; this floors me each and every time.
I now have the privilege of riding my bike to and from each of my destinations. About six months ago I gave up my car, which was a decision within a series of decisions in letting go. This lifestyle change has transitioned my life in many ways, the most prominent of which involves my deepening relationship to the elements and the natural world. Rather than being contained by four walls, my body remains exposed to the shifting temperatures and the passing of time as perceived by the prominence of the sun and the exposure of the moon.
More aligned and present than I have ever been in my life, requesting my body to carry me from one destination to the next involves a diverse range of experiences. Depending on the season, the air I breathe is either warm, cool or strikingly cold. The path before me is either lit by the light of the sun or the glow of the moon. The terrain I trek determines just how much my muscles and lungs have to work.
Though I have struggled these past six months to the point of pounding tears rolling down the crest of my chin, the pain endured has brought me that much closer to life. Each of my struggles has broken my heart open, leaving me fully exposed to the oncoming storms. So profound is the feeling of heartache, that I cannot help but come full circle and sense the joy that is folded so beautifully into all of the pain.
Life is precious and fleeting. We are so intensely focused on the details that often detract from the beautifully devastating potential life carries, that we miss the opportunities for life to change us in ways so profound we couldn’t dream up such rites of passage. Life seems to meet us at every turn, each breath, and every step awaiting our awakening. An awakening that involves sensing the world wholly changing and unchanged. To feel the breaking and building within each moment renewed, we are gifted the opportunity to embrace all of life with each vibrating, dancing cell in our bodies. From watching someone we love fill with joy, to standing in the pain felt by that same beloved, is a boon.
We are taught that in order to survive life we must be intelligent. An intelligence that stems from thinking and sustaining oneself from a space of logic and reason. Though such skills and capacities have their place, this living that we do is really, in the end, about feeling. Feeling the sharp sting of life shattering us, the aching truth of life transforming us, and the warm embrace of life loving us into being. All evidence to the contrary, life is about thriving not surviving. Of feeling it course through our veins and run through the marrow of our bones. To be touched by life is to feel it within each cell. To honor life is to let life be touched by each of us.
When you look to the stars and sense yourself as no bigger than the speck of dust resting on the earthen floor beneath your feet, you have two options: feeling insignificant and small, or feeling miraculous and a part of something larger than you could have ever imagined. Can you look at a blade of grass and experience the wonder that produced its existence, knowing in that moment that you come from the same wondrous Universe? Put differently, did you know that you cannot, for very long without a sincere degree of struggle, stop yourself from breathing? That the Universe pushes air into your body? When looking at life this way, one could say the Universe is breathing you in. Life wants you to exist. Through all the pain and all the joy, life aches to feel you step into its rapid currents of rhythm and flow. Currents that run through the infinite channels of a perfectly broken world.
We live in a beautifully broken world, and it is in the breaking that each of us has the opportunity to return to wholeness. A wholeness that becomes a sweet symphony of living and dying, over and over again. The question is not whether you can survive this life and each death and birth that comes with it. The question is, can you dive so deeply into all that it has to offer that you’re pulled apart? And, in that dismantling, can the scattered pieces of you become a part of everything? Like seeds sown for harvest, as a gardener of your life, are you willing to turn up the soil? To feel its richness in the palm of your heart? To plant the seeds of death and life? To water those seeds of self with your own tears, and catalyze their growth with the light of your own spirit? Can you meet life with equal passion, and without question know that your existence is meant to be?
So, next time you step out your front door, look to the sky and breathe. You are alive!