What is it to be really alive? Not just the banal act of biologically living, but to truly feel the rush of your life and to be aware of your breathing, coughing, sneezing, heart-beating existence?
I think it comes in certain moments... when the grey samsara drone of the daily routine gives way to change, surprise, fear, or joy. When you stop caring about petty things like school in the face of something that challenges who you are. Those moments flicker like candles and can be accompanied by intense pain or pleasure. Often the threat of death is at hand. At other times, it's a feeling of euphoria, when you feel connected to something and don't want it to ever end.
It happens when you're struggling to gasp for air and you're gashed up and bloody as you struggle to crawl up the side of the road after you've been thrown from a car crash.
It happens when someone starts talking to you in a way that you'd never thought of before.
It happens when, no matter how hard you try, you have trouble believing in your religion (Catholicism, Marxism, humynism, science, art, whatever).
It happens when you round up all of your possessions and burn them in a pile on your front lawn.
It happens when you do the unexpected.. when you defy the categories you created for yourself and you BE in a different way, something you would have never imagined last week.
It can happen now. Or you just forget it. Sometimes it's just too frustrating and you have to go back to zombie-life. But sometimes... everything falls apart. The foundations break and, while it can be terrifying at first to realize that your support is gone, it can also be the most liberating thing that you've felt in your entire life. Mere words and their traditional meanings stop mattering.
For the first time, you can become something new. You not only see the walls of your ontological prison disappear, you realize that you were only imagining them the whole time. Some religious people talk about being "Closer to God." I like that
This is one of the most beautiful things that I've ever read. It left me shocked the first time I saw it. It's from Closer by Dennis Cooper, kind of a nasty book, but I just love this. It says so much without really putting it into words:
There was Mr. McGough. George recognized his suit. George rose and made his way through, sometimes accidentally bumping into, some people he vaguely knew. If they were greeting him he couldn’t tell. Still, he was pretty sure Mr. McGough licked his lips when their eyes met.
“Hey George,” the teacher said. He led them into a quieter part of the gym, “I trust you, don’t I?” George nodded. “I’ve gotten access to the coach’s lounge.” He pointed a finger at George. At its end, swinging back and forth like a pendulum, was a big ring of keys. “You and I . . . ?”
George licked his lips. “I get the picture,” he smirked. Inside the office, Mr. McGough felt around on a cluttered desk, found a lamp. It lit up Coach Burke’s diploma and an old snapshot of him in red swim trunks. “Once that fat blob was a knockout,” George thought. “Yuck.”
“Prepare yourself for a charming surprise,” said a sexy voice. George settled back on the desk top. He felt his ass squish against it. He gripped the trimming. His knuckles turned purple. He shut his eyes. He parted his lips wide enough that a tongue could fit through them.
George thought, “If God made a visit to earth it’d be in the form of a kiss. Being kissed by someone I admire is the closest I’ve gotten to peace on earth, like Xmas carolers sing. God would give each boy a taste of His lips then go back to whatever dimension He hides in. That would help.”
What a wacked-out idea. George liked how acid could blow up the flimsiest topic. Just then a sharp object scraped through his lips. His eyes flipped open. Mr. McGough put a match to its other end. “Pure Nicaraguan,” he said. “Go ahead. Blow you brains out.”
Two minutes later they edged through the door. The dance floor was a blur. Its details had blended together, a greenish white. It made George think of a Xmas tree, flocked, lying down on its side. He was afraid he’d get cut if he entered it. “Come meet some people, kid.” “Huh? Oh, right.”