To Be Alive

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” — Marcus Aurelius

I saw the squirrel, hanging upside down in the sun, grasping the oak bark with its cleverly-designed hind claws that hinge and hook so miraculously. He was staring intently at me, wondering what my intent was. Ready to flee, preferring to hang in the sun nibbling on whatever delights he came across. “Don’t worry about me friend,” I offered. “My intent is to celebrate the day, as you clearly are.”

We aren’t born with the tools to hang upside down halfway up oak trees, or to soar on a whim to see the sunrise from high above the valley floor. We aren’t born able to dive deep into the sea to see how far the sunbeams penetrate the salty depths. Yet someone engineered ways for us to do each of these things, should we be so inclined. We don’t celebrate the collective contribution of humanity nearly enough, perhaps because we focus so much on our failings.

To be alive is an immeasurable gift, extraordinary in scope yet tragically brief in duration. What exactly are we doing with each day to celebrate this gift? To flip that question upside down like that squirrel in the tree, what are we postponing in our lives that rejects the gift of this day? Isn’t that the ultimate rejection that betrays our potential? For, no matter what we might tell ourselves, we may not have another.

Maybe this is why I love mornings so much—they offer proof that we’ve been given the opportunity to be alive for at least one more day, and with it a fresh beginning. We each have the opportunity to engineer our lives from this moment to our last. To toss our limitations aside and find a way to soar.

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