“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman, Theologian
You are probably dead already… most people are.
You don’t really breathe the air that enters your lungs, you don’t really taste your food, and you don’t really kiss your lover.
You repeat the opinions of others and never think for yourself (although you think you do).
You add nothing valuable to our world.
You know this too.
This is why you have started drinking 3 to 4 Budweisers a night, after your meal of lollipops for dinner (you call this a healthy meal though, because it says so on the box/bag/cable television). Then you settle in for a night of practicing your remote control skills… you are getting pretty good too.
The fact that this isn’t all your fault offers some comfort.
Every once in awhile you get pretty angry too, when you stop to think of how our parent’s generation was too apathetic and cowardly to take the actions necessary to hand us a healthy world.
Or hopefully you get even more angry when you contemplate the staggering amount of money that is spent to control how you think, how you feel, and what you do.
But… this isn’t such a bad life… right?
You can afford an SUV, daily lattes, and even a handful of apps every month for your smart phone. When the feeling of discontent gets to great, you remember to be thankful for the job you are lucky to have, when so many others don’t.
You can feed your loved ones too, when so many others can’t. Plus, your children don’t look anything like those fly-covered, huge belly kids in Africa… those kids are really fucked.
You should be grateful… right?
Or maybe this is how it has to be. The USA needs to fail and serve as an example to the world of how not live. Maybe millions of people need to be really, really unhappy to show the next empire that we better not just focus on buying. Maybe our families need to die, so others can prosper.
Maybe this suffering will create the needed incentive to design a society that works.
Is there a chance to change, before things get even uglier? Is there a chance to prevent a whole lot more people from extreme hardship?
Ahhh… you don’t have time to think about this though, because you have to get up early tomorrow. There is a big meeting.
One day when your body is shot, your painkillers wear off, and your virtual reality television experience breaks down, you will notice something strange. You will notice the most horrible feeling of regret creep through your body as you remember the look in the eye of the first beautiful girl that loved you. Or maybe you can even remember a day in elementary school, when you were sharing with the class how you would change the world.
Life seemed so full of possibility then. You understood what being alive meant.
And as you lay in your bed, if any part of you is still alive… you will cry.
I’m not sure when I was truly born.
When I learned to look around and see the world for myself. When I decided to question what I was told and to start the long process of learning to really think for myself.
Maybe it was working 120 hours a week telling at-risk teens the truth, so they would get their lives together.
Maybe it was sitting in countless pickup trucks, cars, minivans, and semi-trucks talking to Americans from all walks of life as I hitchhiked over 14,000 miles around the USA.
Or maybe it was when I made my first dollar doing what I have dreamt of doing my whole life… I can even do it from anywhere in the world.
I guess it doesn’t matter so much, when I came alive, it just matters that I am alive.
And that I wake up every day and make the choice to stay alive.
Being alive isn’t easy.
It is a daily battle to remember to think with my own mind, to breathe with my own lungs, to speak what I think and to enjoy every hug, kiss, conversation, and moment of this life.
It is a daily battle to remember that I can change the world and then do the work to make that happen.
Maybe my rant was a bit much, but it is tough sometimes to watch so many people plod through life. They are as dead as those that were killed in Haiti 2 years ago and they don’t even realize it.
If you made it this far into the post, there actually is a good chance that you are not dead though. Either way, we all need help staying alive and hopefully these actions can help.
Here are 42 actions that have helped me understand what it feels like to be alive and 37 more actions others have taken:
1. Take 5 minutes in the morning to sit, breathe, and do nothing.
2. Run at least one mile a day for over 1000 days straight.
3. Drive the speed limit.
4. Make friends with other alive people.
5. Read David Deida’s book about finding your deepest purpose in life.
6. Go on a 30-day raw diet.
7. Stop watching the news.
8. Quit your job.
9. Talk to people you admire on Twitter.
10. Set TED as your homepage.
11. Stop watching TV and watch videos on Vimeo instead.
12. When you see an advertisement, ask yourself: What psychological buttons is this ad trying to push?
13. Throw away your belongings until you only have 57 things.
14. Run a marathon while training less than 26 miles.
18. Cross the Mexican border on foot and take buses with the people, despite everyone saying you will get your head cut off.
19. Dance badly
21. Make an art project that 100,000 people watch in a week
22. Start your own mastermind group
23. Host a traveler in your home
24. Stay in a local’s home when you travel.
25. Sleep under the stars
26. Talk to a kid that doesn’t speak your language
27. Say I love you to people you barely know
28. Make a time lapse video for 24 hours alone on your birthday
29. Wear only one pair of pants for 3 months.
30. Start your legacy project.
31. Spend your birthday alone and show your Mom & Dad how much you love them
32. Don’t kill mosquitos, brush them away.
33. Work with someone who is dying.
34. Spend the holidays alone.
35. Ride your bike through a foreign country without a map.
36. Quit your location independent business, because it didn’t provide value to the world.
37. Spend a week, alone, not talking, reading, or speaking.
38. Date five girls a week every week for a few months.
39. Quit Facebook for a week
40. Quit Facebook for a month
41. Unfriend a family member that gives you more stress than love.
42. Go skinny dipping in March with strangers
37 Other Ways To Be Alive (Or A Brief Introduction To The World-Changing Work Of 37 Alive People):
50. Start an NGO
55. Tell the truth
62. Sleep on a hill
61. Travel full-time
66. Build a 6,000 dollar yurt in the hills of Idaho
67. Be an inspiration to your home health aide, despite having a terminal illness.
68. Adopt a hitchhiker as your nephew
If you have read this far, then you are most likely alive. Awesome! Please help others by sharing what keeps you alive in the comments, an @message on twitter, or a reply on your own blog.
Your voice is important.
Thank you so much! I really appreciate what you are doing for everyone in our world. In fact, let’s be friends. Twitter is my spot now @ me up.