Choosing To Be Fully Alive

Image credit: Lk1997863064/

I came across these great words from Dawna Markova:

Fully Alive

I will not die an unlived life.

I will not live in fear

of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days,

to allow my living to open me, 

to make me less afraid,

more accessible,

to loosen my heart

until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.

I choose to risk my significance;

to live so that which came to me as seed

goes to the next as blossom

and that which came to me as blossom,

goes on as fruit.

Let me explain why they caught my eye.  I’ve spent a lot of years not being fully alive.  There are many reasons for that, and one of them sprung to mind when I read this poem.  Some years ago I had the unfortunate, and very traumatic experience of seeing another person catch fire, and I was unable to stop it happening or even to help.  I’m not going to go into the details because it would be traumatic for me, and maybe for you too, but I read:

“I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire”

You might be able to imagine that after an experience like that, everything about catching fire would catch my attention.  It did.  Any words about fire tend to do that for me, although I can say that at this stage it’s not the traumatic re-living of the event anymore.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it now.

What strikes me is that back when that happened, it affected all of my senses.  My sight, smell and hearing all caught their own record of it.  What’s more, I could taste the burning in my mouth and I could feel the soot on my clothes.  I guess that’s what you could call experiencing it fully, and as a result it was very hard to get away from.  Not only were all my senses affected that day but also my heart.  The person involved wasn’t someone I knew personally, but a little of the pain they experienced had to touch those who had to watch helplessly.  How could it not?

I have lived since then afraid of catching fire, or seeing the experience repeated.  I don’t even use candles anymore, even though I consider myself to have largely recovered from the experience.  Candles also aren’t such a good idea when you’re living with earthquakes, so again my fear of fire is stashed away with the candles, and I can tell myself that it is ‘sensible’.

I suspect that to some extent I will always be a little fearful of fire, but the thing is that when I start to guard my life from one danger, then it is easy to start building protective barriers around myself from other dangers.  I don’t want my senses to be invaded in such a way that they were.  And I don’t want my heart to be hurt like it was that day too.

That occasion was thankfully the only time I have had to deal with such an event but my heart has been being hurt, and burnt over and over again across the years.  I’m no different from anyone else, and I’m sure most people have had their hearts burnt at times.  It’s just that when it happens repeatedly then you gradually shut down from the world, and that’s what I did.  I shut down so that no one could get near my heart.

It seemed like the sensible thing to do at the time, but I’m realising that when I shut down my heart then I shut down my life and how it is experienced by all of my senses.  I don’t want to die having lived only half my life, and so I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to take a few risks in order to bear the fruit.

I’m not about to light candles because our earthquakes continue (although admittedly they are lessening in their frequency).  A damaged house is one thing but a burnt out house would leave me homeless.

But I can consider my risks, and take a few.  I want to fly.  In any situation that we face there are risks.  I’m not blind to that but I think now I’m at a point where I can jump.  If I don’t fly, then I know there will be people around me now to make sure I have a smooth landing.  I’m still going to be careful.  I don’t want my heart burned unnecessarily.  And when those earthquakes have stopped, I’ll be pulling out the candles again.  It’s time to move on and not be paralysed any longer by my fear of fire.  Fire can be a good thing too, and I intend to experience that.

“We are young, but We already know that in life’s great game those who are
most unhappy are those who haven’t taken the risk to be happy.
And I don’t want to be one of those” 

―    Guillaume Musso,    Que serais-je sans toi?


8 thoughts on “Choosing To Be Fully Alive

    1. Yeah, it was… but I was fortunate to get a lot of help to deal with it. I know in that respect I was lucky. In so many situations people don’t get the help they need to deal with such trauma.

  1. John Richardson

    When you shut out love to prevent pain you also shut out joy. It seems you have to riks one to have the other. It reminds me somewhat of gravity. Gravity is always there and is always making itself a nuisance in my life. The question is really, does not floating out into space make it all worth while?

  2. A very powerful poem and story. I love your thoughts, but I am so sorry you experienced a trauma like that. 😦 My mom was witness to a fatal fire when she was a teen. Two young men. She still cannot watch fires on TV and it still leaves her shaken to talk about… 50 years on. You don’t get over teauma, you just keep keeping on, I think.

    I’ve been witness to a fire in a weird and also stressful way – I dreamt it the day before it happened. I saw the fireman and then it happened. And yet there was nothing I could do since I hadn’t a clue that it was a premonition till afterwards and I’m not at all sure I could have done anything to warn him ewven if I’d realised. It was very stressful, to put it mildly.

    I’m not keen on candles either. Last year I used some birthday money to buy a set of fake tea candles. They’re little torches/lights. They look really believable and since they run on little rechargeable batteries I can stick them where ever and not feel nervous. 🙂

  3. PS… A friend signed me up for these emails called Brave Girls’ Club. I love them. 🙂 Here’s todays’ one…

    Dear Beautiful Girl,

    What are you willing to let go of today? Life is so much about knowing what to hold on to, and what to let go of — and having faith that it will all work out in the end.

    Your heart and your gut know exactly what you need to let go of, even if your brain is giving you all sorts of reasons to clamp your fingers around it. There are seasons and times to have different things, relationships and situations in your life, and then the seasons change and it’s time to let go of many of those things. Change is hard, but change is absolutely necessary.

    We’ve all got to let go of old habits, old situations, old behaviors and sometimes even old relationships to make room for what is meant for the next part of our lives. If we just get quiet, get brave, and listen very closely, our hearts will tell us what to let go of. This doesn’t mean it will be easy. It just means that it is what is meant for now.

    You can do this.
    Listen to your heart.
    Be brave.

    A message from your friends at the Brave Girls Club –

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