Coming Alive

Post Date: October 17th, 2013


I’ve been musing about this quote since I first read it on Saturday.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Howard Thurman (1899-1981)

One way I relate to “coming alive” is arousing the fire of passion; feeling that “fire in the belly.” I experienced this when I was a trial attorney and when I stood election for my judgeship. When I lost the passion for my judgeship after my journey with cancer, I retired.

I also relate to coming alive in the advice that Joseph Campbell, the mythology scholar, gave college students asking for career guidance: “Follow your bliss.” I experience this in my freelance legal writing for the Wisconsin Law Journal. I write a twice-monthly column analyzing Wisconsin appellate court cases. In the challenge of pondering cases and writing the column I find bliss. I come alive.

Now that I’ve established a rhythm to writing the column, I’ve become more efficient at it. That gives me more time on my hands so I’m looking at a number of volunteer activities. There are indeed so many needs, but one cannot fulfill them all.

St. Paul wrote to the Romans about each person being part of the divine body. Our task is to discern which body part we are and do the work of that part. “If you preach, just preach…, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching….” Romans 12, The Message. It is permission to do what makes us come alive. 

So I’ll select volunteer activities from the angle of which ones vivify me. This, I realize, is intertwined with the universal law of attraction. We’re attracted to what we are meant to be involved in.

I also relate to “coming alive” as alive in spirit, or alive with and by Spirit. I view my meandering professional life (nurse, attorney, judge, writer) as a series of Spirit-inspired choices during different phases of my life. A different aspect of my being was enlivened and given expression by each choice; a different archetype was activated. I imagine the same will be true with volunteer activities.

As you think about it, what makes you come alive?