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In Search of Aliveness

I've been thinking about and collecting anecdotes on the theme of aliveness for quite some time. It's taken a while to write about it as every time I go to press 'publish' I find new stories surrounding this topic.

There are multiple crises taking place in the world right now and it can impact our outlook on life. Perhaps such times call us to connect with experiences that make us feel alive from the core.

The catalyst that piqued my interest was the Dumbo Feather podcast in which Esther Perel was interviewed. Of the many insights that she shared, Esther's thoughts on creativity and aliveness intrigued me.

In the podcast, Esther referred to a question she explored with her husband, an organisational trauma psychologist. "How does he know when people have come out of trauma?" Esther and her husband came to the conclusion that it is when people can once again create or play and be curious that they have come out of a state of trauma. She explained that in order to play and create there needs to be a sense of safety and carefreeness or unself-consciousness to experience pleasure.

The conversation flowed deep into the experiences of holocaust survivors and how there were people who survived but never came back to life and those who sang, wrote poems and made art in the face of adversity, numbness, flatness, hopelessness. (You can watch this part from about 38:00)

Reflecting further on creativity and aliveness, I was reminded of the formidable Eileen Kramer. Eileen dances, choreographs, writes (she recently published a book), sews costumes and paints. Did I mention she is now 109 years old?

I've had the honour of dancing with and for Eileen over the past few years. Every time I see her I am blown away by her fountain of ideas and boundless creative output. How does one live to 109 and continue to have this energy and drive?

Eileen Kramer directing Sue Healey and I, August 2023

My mother used to take my sister and I to a jazz event at our local library on Sunday afternoons. The musicians were often quite elderly and looked frail as they sat and waited amongst the audience. To my surprise, as soon as it was their turn to perform, they sprung to life with energy and lightness that was previously undetectable. I enjoyed watching this transformation just as much as listening to their music.

Thinking back to those musicians and watching Eileen, I wonder whether it is their creativity that quite literally keeps them alive.

As I continued my personal research on aliveness, two more gems emerged. This time, awe and purpose came to the fore as contributing factors.

"Phosphorescence"a book by Julia Baird had been sitting on my bookshelf, untouched for a couple of years. Why hadn't I read this earlier? The book was all about aliveness that comes from experiencing awe, particularly the one we feel when we are in nature. ABC TV's Catalyst program presented the episode Awe Hunters with Julia. I urge you to watch it if you missed it.

Lastly, Sarah Wilson's conversation with Dr. Gladys McGary, added another dimension to my search. She is 102 years old, a practicing doctor who continues to plan her life in 10 year stretches. Gladys is full of life and shares the most beautiful insights. Two key takeaways from Gladys:

  • to move daily whether it is walking, swimming or dancing

  • find and connect with what she calls your 'juice'.

Connect with your juice and flow with the movement of life. I highly recommend listening to the episode. It's bound to brighten your day.

I am sure that there are so many more examples of aliveness and I look forward to learning more. For now, I will end my post here.

When do you feel most alive? How do you cultivate it? Do you seek experiences that strike awe?

I'd love to hear from you.

Kei x

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2 commentaires

13 nov. 2023

Always alive in nature - in the bush, at the beach, feeling the wind! I recommend "Braiding Sweetgrass" for your next reading adventure. :)

En réponse à

Thank you for the book recommendation! I look forward to reading it!

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