Are You Still Alive?

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali

Are you changing?  Are you still growing?  I always say [I think that I heard this long ago and have repeated it ever since] that we are like trees.  If we are not growing [adding new rings within–like the tree’s rings]–we are dead.  Like a dead tree, we may still be stuck in the ground; but we are dead.  We won’t have any more beautiful colors in autumn; we won’t have quiet periods of rest when, while we may appear to be dead, we are merely hibernating–gathering energy to bud brilliantly during our next season.

When I am working at a full pace, I work 14 to 20 hours a day–almost manically.  I am feverishly chasing an idea or exploring a new theme.  I am doing.  I am creating.  I am energized; and I do not want to take time to sleep.  I love those periods; but they are exhausting.

I should not be surprised when these periods of mania are eventually followed by a period of total rest, when lethargy sets in.  Like a field after harvest, I am lying fallow, gathering nutrient and energy to flush again.  Those non-productive periods are not fun; but this is not a period of total death.  I do eventually spring back into action.

When you are totally dead, there is no more springing into action.  You are in some type of existence mode–rather like someone comatose.  Breathe in–breathe out–breathe in–breathe out–breatheeeeeeeeeeeee! That is just about it.  You begin just going through the motions of life; but a machine has taken over.

If you think that any of this applies to you, let’s consider the issue further. Is it possible that you are only close to that point of emotional no-return; but actually are not?  If that is the case, I urge you to gather every source available to you and reach for the brass ring–at least one more time.  And this time, gain enough momentum, as you circle, that you can spin into an orbit, where you are undeniably alive and Doing again.

Art can help you do that.  Art springs from an inner, self-renewing source.  That is why that, when you are being creative and actually using your creativity, you cannot work fast enough. The ideas begin to flood you.  You are in an energetic state of creative euphoria. On the other hand, when you are just idling, you think that you’ll never have another idea.  Yet, you will:  You are just resting; you are empty; but emptiness is at times necessary.

Lao Tzu said that only by becoming empty do we create space into which new can flood.  He compared life to a bellows–pulling out the old and stale within us and recharging with vitality.

Like a river, we must flow–continuously emptying and refilling.

Many years ago, I read a parable and do not even know where I read it.  I see the same parable posted on the internet; but I have yet to find the original author.  I’ll just say that the source is anonymous for now; but the message is powerful and has to do with this need to allow movement, flowing, emptying and refilling in life.  The name of the parable is Two Seas.

Two Seas

“There are two seas in Palestine. One is fresh, and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters. Along its shores the children play, as children played when He was there. He loved it. He could look across its silver surface when He spoke His parables.

And on a rolling plain not far away He fed five thousand people.

The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. And men build their houses near to it, and birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is there.

The River Jordan flows on south into another sea. Here is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter. Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.

What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas? Not the river Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie not the country about.

This is the difference. The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.

The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. This other sea gives nothing. It is named The Dead. There are two kinds of people in the world. There are two seas in Palestine.” – Anonymous

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