Earl R. Smith II, PhD

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It’s a silly thing that defines most lives. The disconnect from the fundamental fact of being alive. It’s as if life was a blender or some other appliance and we spend our time wondering why it’s not working. We press this button or turn that dial and nothing seems to happen.

A great deal of my mentoring work is focused on helping people get back in touch with the fact that they are alive – that their unique life force flows out of a center that they have not been paying attention to. One of Joseph Campbell’s favorite sayings was “When you are falling dive.” I prefer a modest alternative.

When you are alive, live!

The single most important thing in all of this is life itself. It is the fountain from which all other things come forward – come to pass. The wonder of that single fact can so easily be lost in the day-to-day experience of living. It seems that the older we get the more difficult it is to stay in contact with the joy and wonder of being alive.

But then we encounter these somewhat strange individuals who don’t seem to have lost the zest for living simply because the decades have advanced. Perhaps they strike us as child-like. Maybe we see them as forever young. They tend to seem immune to the trash pile of illusions and delusions that dominate most lives. Let me tell you about one such individual that I had the honor and pleasure to know.

Jim was one of those strange souls who seemed constantly both bemused and amused by the world around him. He was completely free of avarice – he never coveted anything that anybody else had. Jim was fearless. As a pilot, he delivered a massive rotary engine to a woman known as the ‘Florence Nightingale of the Andes’. His stripped-down single engine plane almost didn’t get off the ground. His flight plan was over areas of Columbia and Venezuela that were controlled by the Cartels. If he was forced down on one of those airports, he would never be seen again.

It’s easy to think of Jim as simply charitable. But that would not do the life force he was justice. Jim was curious about everything and anything. He valued living over life. Jim couldn’t swim. He was part of a group that traveled with me to St. Johns in the US Virgin Islands. One day I rented an outboard skiff and we traveled around to a beautiful bay. The rest of us put on our snorkel gear and began to explore the reef. I had all of them out in front of me so I could keep an eye on them. Suddenly from behind me there was this splash. I looked around to see Jim clutching a seat cushion. He had on a mask and flippers and proceeded to propel himself around. Jim would risk drowning rather than miss the experience of living.

The problem with most lives – a problem that I encounter repeatedly – is that those lives are not plugged in to the experience of being alive. That’s where the electricity of living comes from – the direct experience of being alive.

There is a way to fix that. There is a way to plug into the incredibly unique fountain of energy at the center of your being. If you do nothing else with your life, plug it in to that source. It works better if you plug it in!

© Earl R. Smith II, PhD