Are You Truly Living?

I just read an article on LinkedIn that has me thinking. One of my 2nd level connections, Oleg Vishnepolsky, wrote:

A group of students was asked to list what they thought were the present Seven Wonders of the World. Though there were some disagreements, the following received the most votes:

  1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids
  2. Taj Mahal
  3. Grand Canyon
  4. Panama Canal
  5. Empire State Building
  6. St. Peter’s Basilica
  7. China’s Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student had not finished her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The girl replied, Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there are so many.
The teacher said, “Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help.”
The girl hesitated, then read, “I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:

  1. To see
  2. To hear
  3. To touch
  4. To taste
  5. To feel
  6. To laugh
  7. And to love.”

The room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. The things we overlook as simple and ordinary and that we take for granted are truly wondrous!

This has me thinking more and more about how often we never take the time to truly experience life.
Far too often are we sucked into the mundane activities of living day to day, without much appreciation for everything around us… without taking the time to truly experience the life we work so hard to build.
Having gone through an extensive period of time in my life unable to do much when struck down with health ailments, there are many things in life I specifically seek out to experience.
When you break yourself free of all the drama… from all the monotony… from all the day in and day out events focused on survival… and truly see the world to experience it, all sorts of new doors open.
When you expand your mind to take in all the experiences around you, your life changes.
Yes… the tourist sights are quite an experience… but when was the last time you took extra time actually watching the sun rise? Not just noticing it for a brief moment, but truly engaging yourself in the experience of the sun rising to the point where you swear you can hear angelic music accompanying the majestic colors dancing through the sky?
When was the last time you took to truly listen? Not just listen to respond to something… but to hear so thoroughly that you feel what your listening to resonate through your body. Listening to fully understand through each cell of your being.
When was the last time you took to touch something? Not just to pick things up and put them away, but to truly focus on how something feels. Do you just shower or do you take a moment to allow time to slow down and notice how each droplet falling down is a slightly different shape, size, and temperature. How each water droplet is its own unique being among the thousands of other droplets steaming down onto your face.
When was the last time you actually took your time enjoying some new food? You taste things all the time, but have you actually taken time to truly indulge yourself in the act of tasting food, so focused on the variety of delicious flavors enough to see a variety of colors wash over your spinning vision?
When was the last time you took the time to feel. To truly experience the wide array of emotions throughout your life? Do you appreciate them or hide from them? Have you sat with your children to fully feel sheer heartfelt joy? What about fully embracing the sorrow of losing someone close to you? Emotions are remarkable. They offer some intense uplifting support and some intense healing. They impact our mental health, our memories, and our physical health. They embody the true defining factors of being human.
When was the last time you laughed so hard that your head spun for days… the type of genuine laugh that fills your heart just thinking about the memory?
When was the last time you truly loved. Loving someone with out any expectation or condition. Loving every cell of yourself, even through all your flaws. Truly and unconditionally loving your life, challenges, pain, joy.. all of it.
I'm surprised to smell wasn't on this list too. How we experience different aromas is wildly fascinating. Different smells evoke different memories, which can trigger different feelings. Noticing a specific smell can launch us into reminiscing about how something felt to touch… a vision of something that happened in the past… the memory of a taste… the memory of a sound. Just a sniff of a specific aroma can ignite all your senses, even without intending to.
Have you taken time to put it all together? To fully experience an experience using all your senses?
Have you ever taken the time to caress your fingers over the veins of soft, velvet rose petals, breathing in the aroma of its sweet, floral nectar, as you hear bees and birds in the surrounding area busy living their lives. How does it make you feel?
It is so easy to focus on what you need to do today before your shift ends… then to prepare dinner after a long day's work… before worrying about the kids' bedtime routine… all while hoping you won't be coming home to the dog having thrown up… and lets not forget a spouse begging for your time before collapsing into your night time coma.
Sometimes the day to day life becomes too much. When you don't take time to truly experience life, you end up with little to look forward to, and little to look back on.
When life becomes too much, it helps to have these memories to embrace. It helps to have making these future memories something to look forward to.
They help recenter our minds… recenter our moods… and rebalance how we feel.
Please, take a moment to assess your schedule and make sure you're carving out time for you to slow down and enjoy experiences your life has to offer.