This post has a soundtrack. Press play on the video below and then read on. Let’s see if it works for you too…
When you are fully alive, the reality of that means that there are emotions. Always. Emotions can seem scary, uncertain, unpredictable. Perhaps, when we were young, emotions were scary, uncertain, and unpredictable for many of us. Maybe anger came with outbursts of yelling or violence. Maybe sadness meant weakness. Maybe fear was something that was belittled. Whatever it is, a lot of people try to hide and run from their emotions. What is really happening is that they are running from being alive.
One of the most miraculous aspects of being human is that we experience our lives and we do this by feeling. Any time we choose to “cap” or “stuff” or “block” an emotion, that choice is reflected in our aliveness. It may not be noticed right away. In fact, we may not even know we’ve done it until years down the road. Then, one day we find ourselves exploding at everything because someone left their shoes in the middle of the room or we find ourselves breaking down and dissolving into tears over a sappy commercial or we find ourselves in the hospital with unexplainable disorders. These are a few ways that stuffed emotions can manifest.
Emotions are meant to be in motion. They are Energy-in-Motion. They are meant to flow – with tears being the most gentle way to do that, ironically.
These are just a few of the things I teach and coach about. So, you would think that I wouldn’t be surprised by emotions.
But, sometimes, I still am.
I am sitting in a Village Inn – my favorite Village Inn – eating breakfast. There are workers all around, two managers, and several tables full of customers. Everyone is talking. There’s a lot of laughter and play amongst the busy workers. It’s a family-fun atmosphere. It’s important that you know that so you can get a sense of my surroundings.
I am at a table alone. And I am crying.
A stranger may feel concerned to see that I am alone. And I’m crying. But, it is something I cannot stop. The tears were suddenly there and I couldn’t stop them. Didn’t want to.
Ya see… it’s a momentous week, this week is. Exactly 96 hours from when I’m writing this, is the first anniversary of Kelsey’s death. Today marks 361 days from when Kel, Garrett, Sage, and their five dogs were killed in that accident and, today, the grief is big. Those two kids, so young still, and so vibrant – they made a huge impact in this crazy world. They touched lives around the world with their love story. They made a difference because they chose to live in full, loud, messy, triumphant, brilliant color. They chose to love and they chose to fill their every moment with love and joy. And, today, I am crying because Kel’s mom posted the above photo as her Facebook cover and within a moment, as I was looking at it, the song in the video began playing.
There have been times when I have felt Kel near, when she has played music for me, when I have found shiny coins on the ground and I’ve known she put it there just for me. Throughout the year, her mom and I have spent countless hours remembering their lives, reveling in their love, laughing about their humor. And there have been times when I’ve watched, waited, listened, and cried with her while she yearned to kiss her daughter’s face, to touch her hair, to hear her laugh, to see her be a mom, to hold her grandson, to watch him grow up, to lead the horses while he rode high up in the saddle, to read him stories, to bake cookies with him.
We could have gotten lost in that sorrow. She certainly could have chosen to stop feeling, to stop living, to stop being. It wouldn’t have been questioned if she had. I mean, come on! One entire segment of her family gone in a flash of an wintery instant.
But, she didn’t choose that.
She chose to live. She chose to love. She chose to feel her grief through the lens of joy. And she kept going. Day by day by salty day.
And, as I’ve witnessed her ongoing struggle to stay upright and moving forward under the weight of overwhelming grief, as I’ve witnessed her tears, her anger, her joy, her emptiness, her fullness, her triumphs, her sadness, as I’ve witnessed her choosing time and again to return to joy, to create joy, to be joy, I have come to understand what it means to BE FULLY ALIVE.
Being fully alive is messy, full of glorious emotions, and it is choosing what I am going to do with each moment that I am given. Being fully alive means that I am willing to feel these emotions when they rise, allow them to move, respect them, honor them, and FEEL them. Because it is in the feeling of these emotions that I know I am alive.
Even if that means I am sitting alone at a table, crying unashamedly in public on a perfectly beautiful winter day as I bask in the remembrance of Kelsey’s aliveness. In so doing, she never really dies. She’s always with me. She’s there, in my heart, in the little moments. And I feel it all.
That is aliveness.
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.