Now might be midlife, or at the very end, or in a new beginning.
I suspect it's all of the above.
In the middle of events large and small, registering on my personal scale like tiny wobbles or major earthquakes, I contemplate how I want to experience this humanity. I have no illusions, anymore, of control. No matter how much knowledge my "worldly" self has accumulated, or how open I think I am to change, life does what it does. No point in making other plans!
So there is joy and freedom, pain and loss, all the states in-between. But I like to define, if only for my own amusement, what I am attracted to, what works for me, what sort of north star I can create to act as a kind of guide. I am aware of my totality...but life on Earth is a gift, much more than some kind of trial-and-error, hard-knock education! It's full of juice, verve, and fascinating facets. It's like a gargantuan box of magnetic refrigerator poetry...maybe an endlessly flexible plot generator. It isn't a condition one must endure--it's an adventure!
Amidst all this marvelous stimuli, there are powerful things that draw my eye, my ear, my heart, my attention...and they all seem to have an extra vitality, a flowing energy, in common. This is a human condition--we prefer what is obviously "alive" to what we feel is "dead". Beyond what our biology may dictate, however, there exists a certain "spark", a musical feel, a texture of welcome in certain people, places and things. It isn't necessarily youth, socially-sanctioned beauty or history-approved quality that I'm speaking of, either. There may be an air of relaxed energy in a neighborhood that appeals to my curiosity, or the color vibration in a painting, or an intelligent, answering curiosity in a pair of eyes. It's difficult to pin the attraction to any fixed formula or combination of elements.
The inevitable result of such contact is a heightened awareness which reaches for more and more detail, while a simple and joyous space opens up to make room for good things. Engagement brings quality to the fore, somehow...all the good things in life that have always been free, as a matter of fact!
Vitality is not necessarily "actualized" in people with money, perfect health, long memories or white teeth. I have seen vitality bloom in terminally ill patients when they cease to identify with their disease; I have heard it deepen the voice of someone declaring her personal passion. I have even felt the vitality in granite come across in long, slow waves, like an ancient echo. I had to be there, though, immersed, experiencing...not collecting "experiences" to save in a file, somewhere--not trying to shore up some shaky idea of who or what I might be, or what I should be doing, instead.
In order to contact that spark, I must be willing to swim in the bloodstream of life, even when approaching a powerfully beating heart at breakneck speed! In other words, I must put my typical opinions and judgments aside, and risk becoming part of what I experience, whether by gentle meld or head-on collision...I must allow it to color me, take away some of my lines, reconstruct my thinking, and touch me in places I didn't even know I had.
This seems to nourish and deepen whatever the energy is that I am at the core, adding to my own life-force in an almost magical way, allowing me to perceive (that's right!) even more vitality. The concept of entropy seems to have no hold in such a vital universe, except as a kind of holy (still vital) mess. The deeper I go, the more Living I am. The more this aware-ing energy expands, the more radiance is apparent in even the dead, the plastic, and the over-used. Crazy as it may sound, we can kill this planet and ourselves in a blaze of utter stupidity, but we can't kill its vital source. For the life of me, I don't know how I came to this conclusion, but it seems to resemble a fountain of youth and eternal optimism in the center of my very soul. (I am so grateful!)
I am not denying the fact that I can look around this big stage and find the attempted squelching--almost everywhere, it seems--of emotional intelligence, creativity for the highest good, and loving genius by those humans who feel terribly threatened by the potential loss of imaginary control. Nevertheless, beauty continues to run rampant through the hearts and minds of a healthy underground--a really big (possibly growing) sector of humanity, even within war-torn places and violated forms. These people are balanced realists who understand that the Light carries at least as much weight as the Dark, with the added advantage of understanding the Force which supports both. It's automatically a beautiful vision, and an unceasing principle for those who have fallen in love with Being, no matter what the outcome may be. Hopeless romancers of Bliss, sneaky peacemongers and dedicated liberators of Mind will always be out there, fouling the long-term plans of the creativity-impoverished (and egomaniacal dictators). Whatever evil collective is in fashion cannot "absorb" these vital, bright spirits!
That which is so deeply alive as to be Life Itself is perennially "outside" our common understanding. Still, it can be "accessed through" experience in which it "speaks" to the heart like a wordless language, by direct communication. I have to trust, extend my hand, adopt an attitude of willingness that arises immediately out of the admission of the inherent limitations of my personality, my ego. It's as if I must acknowledge the most fumbling of selves in order to talk to the Self of Grace. In so doing, we instantly recognize each other as the Beloved. Sparks fly, indeed...just as they do in curiosity's gaze, seeing Itself in another.
I acknowledge that touch, today. :)