The Alive Ones, Episode 166

The opposite of life is not death”, writes Caitlin Johnstone, “The opposite of life is habit.” So how, we wonder in this conversation, can we invest the ordinariness of life with the reverence and awe that calls to us? How might we find that aspect of ourselves, in our vast inner landscapes, that is neither our reactivity nor our defensiveness, but is itself life looking out at life in wonder? This episode of Turning Towards Life is a conversation about the difficult and liberating possibility of choosing to live in the midst of all that we might turn away from, hosted as always by Lizzie Winn and Justin Wise of Thirdspace.

This is Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by Thirdspace in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living. Find us on FaceBook to watch live and join in the lively conversation on this episode. We’re also on YouTube, and as a podcast on Apple, Google and Spotify. You can find videos of every episode, and more about the project on the Turning Towards Life website.

Our source this week is brought to us by Lizzie, and written by Caitlin Johnstone.

The Alive Ones

The opposite of life is not death.
The opposite of life is habit.
One who moves from cradle to grave
in the flip book illusion we call time
without deeply attending to this cavalcade of miracles
is one who never lived.

Lifeless are they who live by habit,
who walk by habit,
who sit by habit,
who see by habit,
who think by habit,
who feel by habit.

Lifeless are they who drift through on dead patterns
instead of giving the omnipresent Holiness its due reverence.

The alive ones meet each moment
like a dog greets its master at the door after work.

They do not think: they wonder.
They do not watch: they marvel.
They do not walk: they adventure.
They do not sit: they engage.
They do not wait: they worship.

Awe was never meant to be exceptional.
Awe is the only sane response to this mess.
The alive ones know this.
The alive ones live this.
The mundane does not exist for them.

The ordinary is a fairy tale told by the lifeless
to which the alive listen with rapt fasciation.
They take in breath with the passion of a lover in bed.
They entertain light in their retinas like a beloved guest.
They merrily lose every war with the world.

They dance without music in the frozen food aisle.
They go out into the rain with bare feet and empty wine glasses.
They greet every experience with exuberant curiosity,
and as death approaches it receives that same greeting.

And when they are gone those they leave behind
will be saddened but fulfilled,
and so very grateful,
to have known one who truly showed up here.

Caitlin Johnstone

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash