A friend recommended I check out Emilio Estevez’s movie, The Way, as she had taken the same pilgrimage outlined in the movie. Devotees and others walk the 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago from Saint Jean Pied de Port France to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain believed to be the final resting place of St. James. One of the first lines we hear between real life father and son is incredibly powerful.
“You don’t choose a life, Dad, you live one.”
How many times have we heard, “You have to live the life you chose” or tell ourselves, “I am stuck with this life.” Life is a noun, it only refers to one point in time; my life right now. But truly being alive is not a static. Life does not stand still. Life is in motion. Life does not remain the same every day or every year. To be truly alive we need to meet the definition of life which is “the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you are truly living:
Do you have a Capacity for Growth? Are you still growing? Are you improving your mind, your body, and your spirit? Or have you become like an old, dried up tree; rigid, brittle, frail, and decaying?
Are you Active? Are you out and about meeting the demands of the environment and daily life? Or have you become sedentary and isolated? Are you participating in activities that support your physical, social and psychological well-being?
Are you adapting to Continual Change? Consistency and sameness help us feel safe. But the truth of life is that it is ever changing. We like routine to make us feel safe, yet change is really the only safety. Change means we are alive.
We all get in a funk every so often. We feel stuck and unable or afraid to make changes. We become exhausted, especially in the winter, and find ourselves lacking movement and motivation. We become stressed and fearful when there are too many changes. We long to choose our life; to put a pin in the board and say, “This is my unchanging life. This is how it will be now and always.” In doing so however, we are no longer living our life. Life has become something outside of ourselves. We are disconnected from life and living.
It would be very easy to hide in a life here in Mexico. I could sit in the house, work on the computer, and be disconnected from everything outside the window. Instead, I am consciously living my life. I am continuing to grow by learning Spanish, the value of pesos, and to understand measurements in the Metric system. I am being active, not just by (hopefully) taking daily walks but also jumping at opportunities that come my way. Instead of saying no thanks to opportunities because I “should” complete this or that, I take advantage of new experiences and people to meet when they arise. And I am embracing change. Everything is new to me – big changes to almost every aspect of my daily life. Instead of trying to get things back to the way I experienced them in the US, I jump into the new and see how the new changes me – usually for the better.
Do you find yourself choosing or having a life, but not really living it? Why not make a resolution in the New Year to truly live life. Here are a few ways to help you get back into the act of living your life.
- Sign up for a class, go back to school, or find ways to get out of your routine and be exposed to new cultures and new ways of thinking.
- Get moving! This does not only mean exercise, but it means taking advantage of opportunities which come to you.
- Accept and embrace change. Instead of reacting to change with fear or anger, can you find the gift of growth and experience being offered in each of life’s changes?
As always, if you would like support in releasing the life you choose and learning to really live, contact me about personal sessions or retreat weekends. Buen Camino!!