The Challenge of Feeling Fully Alive

A few weeks ago, my wife and I watched the movie The Mountain Between Us with Kate Winslet and Idris Elba.

(if you haven’t seen the movie, there are spoilers in this post.)

The basic plot of the movie is this:

The two main characters (played by Kate and Idris obviously) are stranded on the top of a mountain following a plane crash.

They wait a few days, and when they realize that help isn’t coming, decide to descend the mountain.

The problem is that they have no idea where they are, no idea how to get back to civilization, no idea how long the journey will take, etc.

They’re also surrounded by ice and snow, have very little food, and Kate’s character injured her leg in the plane crash.

Their chances of surviving are small and at one point Idris’ character admits to Kate’s that he thinks they are going to die on the mountain.

Drawn together by the perilousness of their situation, they fall in love while descending the mountain.

In the end though, they both survive.

But then they have to face perhaps an even greater challenge…how to construct a life together based in the “real world”, a world that contrasts 100% with the moment to moment danger that drew them together.

As they try to find a way forward, one thing they both admit is this: they felt fully alive when they were struggling to survive on the mountain.

Think about that for a moment.

Think about the irony.

In order to feel fully alive, they needed to be near death, they needed their lives to be in jeopardy.

And therein lies the challenge of feeling fully alive. (or as Joseph Campbell put it “the rapture of being alive”.)

How can we feel fully alive amidst the ordinariness of everyday life?

Because let’s face it…much of life is ordinary.



We see the same people over and over and over again.

Engage in the same trivial conversations over and over and over again.

Do the same chores over and over and over again.

Take the same route to work every day.

And once we’re at work, we do the same tasks we did the day before. And the day before that.

Etc., etc., etc.

Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

None of this is to deny that there are lots of wonderful moments in life as well.

But those moments will only ever take up a small percentage of our time on earth.

The simple truth is that much of life is composed of repeating tasks that aren’t very interesting.

(which is why Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield titled one of his books: “After the ecstasy, the laundry”).

So how can you overcome the challenge feeling fully alive?

How can you create a life in which you feel MORE alive amidst all the ordinariness of life?

I can’t give you an easy answer to that question.

I can tell you that it starts with paying attention to your life.

To those moments in which you DO feel fully alive.

To those moments that move you.

That stir your soul.

And make your heart sing.

And then doing everything you can to build more of those moments into your life.

To build a life that is centered around those types of moments.

It then grows by taking risks.

By moving out of your comfort zone.

By challenging yourself. 

By doing things you didn’t think or know you were capable of doing. 

By doing things that scare you. 

The truth is that it’s probably impossible to feel fully alive for every moment of your life (and maybe that’s not the goal anyway).

But life is short and you deserve to feel as alive as possible.

And preferably without getting into a plane crash and descending down a snow covered mountain.

So stir your heart.

Make your heart sing.

Be bold and take some risks. 

Do whatever it takes to start feeling more alive RIGHT NOW!

**Do you want my help with feeling more alive?**

If you’d like my help in creating a life in which you feel more alive, I’d like to invite your to apply for a complimentary discovery session

Just click the button below, fill out the application, and we’ll schedule a time to talk. 

Ed Herzog

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