Alive, Once


Last month I had the pleasure of seeing Johnnyswim in concert. Introducing what they refer to as their “YOLO song,” Amanda pointed out that “you only live once” is used almost exclusively as justification for doing risky and usually ill-advised things. No one says, “Buckle your seatbelt. Take a nap. Take time out for the people you love. You only live once!”

I thought that was so wise.

My Year of Alive has motivated me to take chances before I had time to overthink them, make changes I’ve needed to make, and open my heart without regard to how it might end. I’m living more in the present instead of in constant preparation for a future that probably won’t look like anything I’ve imagined anyway. I want to stay on this road and am happy about my progress.

But the roller coaster of YOLO has worn me out. I was having a blast at first. Then the ride accelerated past its posted speed, momentum carrying it forward and ever faster. Embracing Alive started to mean doing constantly bigger and better things to make my life worth something and myself worth knowing. I pursued the loud, bold, and exciting a little too hard, and lost my original intent, which was to be more Alive from my soul. I forgot that there’s life in stillness too, that you need both and too much of either one can be unhealthy. I started to want off the ride, but I still don’t quite know how to eject.

There’s still more excitement to come in these last weeks of my Year of Alive – and of course, the frenzied holiday season is almost here. But I want to be more mindful about it, remembering what my priorities should be and what I really stand for, instead of charging ahead on autopilot. To the roots of my being, I feel simultaneously exhausted and jittery, like I’m surviving on Red Bull. Chasing a high will do that. It’s gotten too loud in here to hear my own heart. Before I (metaphorically) jump out of any more planes, I need to make sure it’s something positive I really want, not just a feat of derring-do for its own sake. That’s fun and empowering in small doses, but I’ve had plenty. Being fully Alive isn’t just about the moment. It’s also about where you’re headed. Because you only live once.

This post was written for the monthly One Word 365 linkup at The Messy Middle, but it looks like we’re not having it this month. You can also check out my Alive Pinterest board.

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
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6 Responses to Alive, Once

  1. Laura says:

    I just love this whole post. Especially what you said here: “I’m living more in the present instead of in constant preparation for a future that probably won’t look like anything I’ve imagined anyway.”

    So true! Thank you for the reminder. You’re also right about life in stillness. That’s another good reminder for me.

  2. Erika says:

    I’m learning as I get older that excitement and true living doesn’t have to be as “OUT LOUD” and “THRILLING” as I once thought it was. It’s the whole thing you’re saying here — YOLO makes sense, but YOLO doesn’t have to also mean jumping off buildings and living at the edge of your seat everyday. It’s more about that awareness of yourself and residing beautifully in your own skin… the wonder of being alive, in the big and small moments. It sounds like you are finding that balance… and realizing that being present is awesome, but there’s more than one way to be in the moment. :) Very cool!

  3. Carol says:

    This is excellent. You’re right, you need to be alive to the big things (and you have been!), but you can’t neglect the little things either. Life hurtles on regardless of how we spend it, so we need to make sure we take time to do the little things we enjoy–reading a book, talking to a good friend, enjoying an ice cream cone, taking a walk in the crisp fall air. I hope you get some quiet moment as we charge on into this holiday season.

  4. Pingback: One word 365: Courage | Mirror Opposites

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