Making Good Use of Your Alive-ness

What you could learn about health from Hemingway.

I have loved Hemingway for a very long time. It started with “The Old Man and the Sea” and then blossomed into a full blown obsession with not only his works, but him as a whole. His beard. His words. His genius. His travel. His mystery. His zest for life. His overindulgence. Even his sadness.

So a few weeks back when I was perusing the shops in Leesburg and came across a gigantic wooden picture that boasted this quote, I was stopped in my tracks. 

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food
when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep.
Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all
your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell.
And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try
to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

Not just because I had found yet another reason to love Hemingway but because it all made so much sense. I am a keenly emotional and sensitive soul and though at times this can be a hindrance to my life, more often than not I appreciate my capacity to be moved on a daily basis.

Just recently, these things have struck me with their absolute wonder and magic: big farmhouses on sprawling green sheets of land; purple flowers filling up trees; seeing the wind move through pines; babies falling asleep in my arms; the taste of a cold strawberry followed by a bite of cold banana; hot coffee warming my favorite mug; lightning streaking across a blue velvet sky; the smell after the rain; and the feeling of making a ripple of an impact in another person’s life.

The more I take notice of these soul-stirring instances that happen every day, the more I do want to savor life for all that it is: the good, the bad and the ugly. Because at least it’s living.

Breathing deeply and focusing on that breath is being present. Really tasting what I eat means, strawberries and bananas not only taste good but make me feel good, unlike the other day when I ate my free Red Robin birthday burger and felt like I might become ill immediately after finishing all that cheese and grease and salt. My body’s not stupid. It knows what’s good and it knows what to reject even if the rejects are so damn scrumptious for a moment.

I’ve found (over and over again) that the more I care about lilacs and trees and babies and fresh strawberries, the less I care about comparing my hips to Shakira‘s. What a whole lot of waste. God gave me these hips and though they may shrink from big to small, but mostly stay big, what fig of a difference does it make really in this exact present moment of being alive.

It makes no difference. And though I don’t suspect I will stop wanting smaller hips anytime soon, I am certainly going to stop being so critical of the ones I do have.

Big or small, my hips can still hold a baby and what better way to spend my alive-ness than that?