Dying to Come Alive

When this phrase, dying to come alive, surfaced in my mind a while back, I smiled at the sweet perfection of its layered meanings and how it seemed to be an accurate reflection of where I am, where the world is and maybe where you are, too? It's curious, this expression we have — when we say we're dying for something what we really mean is that we have a desire for it, like really want it!

Then there's the adage "grow or die." And yet, when I think about the cycles of growth, it seems to me the first one is: dying, such as when a flower drops its leaves and petals, because all the energy is going into the new seed...or when we let go of something that is no longer in alignment with what we are bringing forth.

So how do I reconcile these two ideas about dying for something? First, I try to recognize my own deep desire(s). In my process, there are times when I feel so overwhelmed or depressed, scared, anxious, angry…it all feels too hard, and I think I just want to check out. But when I follow this thread further, I find that underneath that is a deeper desire not just to live, but to be really alive! So I look around my life and I acknowledge, sometimes with brutal honesty, the things that aren't really working, aren't healthy, aren't very supportive of what I truly want. I challenge myself to let go, to die to what isn't working...to lay myself bare and surrender to transformation.

As I'm writing this article, a storm is brewing outside and I can't help but be out in it. The wind is picking up and the sky is becoming dark and dramatic. I find myself drawn to the beauty and excitement in the impending possibilities, the break from normalcy…the foreboding. It's a heightened sense of energy, like a quickening, a promise that things will never be the same. And, as much as there is a part of me that is terrified of change, another part of me is equally and secretly glad for it.

I felt this same quickening as I lay next to my dying mother. Yes, most certainly, things would never be the same...for me or for her. In the midst of this shocking and horrifying experience, I was also feeling some kind of euphoric cosmic expansion, a change at the cellular level, I was having a mystical experience...in the midst of this death and dying, life was happening.

Death and loss have been great teachers in my life and one of the things I've learned is that swirling around in the space of endings is also the energy of new beginnings. It's rich and powerful, but also paradoxical. When a painting is begun, it is the destruction of the blank canvas; when a baby is born, it is the end of a pregnancy; when a plant sprouts, it is the death of the seed.

And when life brings me to this space, either by my choice or an unexpected circumstance, if I can move through it with some measure of presence and awareness, it stretches me ... expands me beyond what I've known myself to be....asks me to hold more, feel more, be more...pulls me beyond "either/or" and into "both/and." This is the energy of change, death, transition and transformation.

When my nephew died, I was asked to say a few words at the memorial. The day before the service, feeling major apprehension about what I could possibly say, I noticed the rose bushes out in the yard. After blooming, they had died during a late freeze and been cut way back, a strange sight for the springtime. Upon closer inspection, though, I noticed little sprouts forming again already. I was struck by this life force; this pulsing that seemed to be moving through them and everything. No matter whether they froze to death or felt the sting of being cut back, this pulse was still seeking a way to come to life through them. For the days following his death, I continued to feel this pulse, like the heartbeat of the universe...silent, yet deafening. It didn't stop my tears or take away the tragedy, but it made itself known ... suggesting to me that no death stops the divine impulse of life.

And I wondered...if this pulse is always moving through us, are we fostering it? Are we stifling it? Are we even aware of it?

For awhile now I've been feeling that some things in my life are coming to an end....pondering what's next...feeling like "now is the time." But for what? I only know that the old is falling away, but the new isn't quite clear yet. I think we are all going through some version of this, individually and collectively. And even though it's uncomfortable to be in a space of uncertainty, full of loss and turmoil, experiencing a full gamut of what this realm offers: fear, excitement, frustration, liberation, madness, anticipation, constriction, expansion, mystery and magic...all of the above and more...it all seems to be an integral part of the process of birthing something new.

Recently I came across the Howard Thurman quote, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Yes, this is the world I want to co-create and live in....a soul-full one where each of us is alive to our own deepest desires and purpose and authentically expressing them....truly living from the inside out.

I can only do my small piece in the bigger picture, to follow my own internal compass. What I do know is that I no longer want to feel half-hearted about work or relationships. I no longer want to wake up to the stress of how to make ends meet or how to complete the never-ending "to do" list. And so I ask death to come at my own bidding. I want to die to that which no longer serves me. I want to die to the beliefs and patterns that keep me stuck in my insecurities and mediocrity....to die to the part of me that is afraid to really live. So yes, I could say my life is in chaos and shambles. I could say I'm letting go of things and places I've loved and adored to make space for something new and even unimagined. And I could say I'm cutting myself way back, like the rose bush, so I can feel the rush of life force pulsing through me even more deeply, seeking new ways to come into expression. I'm offering myself up for transformation and yes, I am dying to come alive.

How about you?