Our community chorale has been practicing Stephen Sondheim’s music “Being Alive” and the lyrics have completely imbedded in my head over these last two months. So much so, that I find myself wondering about what it means to ‘be alive’.
In terms of my personal training business, I train my clients to be fully alert so they may focus their attention on their working muscles and breath when they engage in their strength and cardiopulmonary training. An unfocused mind during an exercise session is a lot like sleep walking: the body is moving, but the mind has no awareness of it.
“The Glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Saint Irenaeus
Life is full of intriguing, wonderful mystery, begging us to live out loud and on purpose. Yet, for all our aliveness, we often take being alive for granted. The question which plagues me and begs for an answer is this: What does a life look like…feel like…when it is lived fully alive?
If living to the full brings glory to the One who gives us life to live, then surely we must have built into us a capacity, a drive, an overwhelming need to live in abundant, over-the-top alive-ness! And as I ponder these thoughts frequently these days, the words of Sondheim’s song give me some insight into what life looks like when it is less than fully lived:
Somebody hold me too close
Somebody hurt me too deep
Somebody sit in my chair
And ruin my sleep
And make me aware
Of being alive, being alive
Perhaps we choose to live less than fully alive because being fully alive is uncomfortable! And yet I know from my physical training, that if I want to improve my stamina or strength, then I must learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable for a while. Now, that’s a funny way of thinking isn’t it? Yet, ironically this is another tool in my trainer’s tool box. The principle of learning to be comfortable with discomfort is a tool which athlete’s ply every time they train their physical body to perform, whether in practice or in competition.
Interesting how this idea of becoming accustomed to discomfort is best realized in the sphere of relationships. As in, how we relate to others, ourselves, and the Divine directly impacts the quality of our aliveness. Relationship is the humus of a life fully lived. Because being alone is alone…not alive!