The Imperfect Magic of Being Alive



“I’m still alive and I’m not afraid to die!”


The strange and delightful cheerleader in the purple wig, spandex, and multi-colored jockstrap enjoined us to shout this together.

We did. All 2500 of us.

I’m still alive, and I’m not afraid to die.

We moved our bodies. We breathed. We said no. We said yes. We said maybe. We let it go.

We were being asked to shake the habitual.

The stage filled with fog. There were rattles. Strange things calling. The holy people were gathering. We were with them.

The drumming started, rolling through us, shaking our fingertips and toes.


A thought crossed my mind: “My religion is everywhere.” 


The band – The Knife – brought us into a trance state with drumming, lights, color, and strange sounds. The dancers were moving like a guedra, being ridden by the energies of opening and gnosis. I don’t know what Gods were there, but the spirits were present. Ancestors and future. They filled the rafters along with all the noise.

We were alive. And at least in that moment, we were not afraid to die.

That is what presence feels like.

  • What fills you with that sense of your own vital, glorious mortality?
  • What brings you into full attention, all your senses engaged?
  • What do you allow yourself to be taken over by, subsumed temporarily into pure experience?
  • What makes you feel alive?

The concert wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t 100% emotionally satisfying, not like other shows I’ve been to. Nonetheless, it was grand.  It was ambitious and committed. The performers took a risk, pushing the audience past what may have expected. The magic worked, even with an imperfect execution. Just like some other rituals I’ve been to or made.


Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to be filled with the magic that is offered…


…Even when we would do something differently. We have to allow ourselves to open to the joy of being in a room with others, sharing something. We have to let the music fill us, carry us, even if it isn’t always our cup of tea. We have to allow our expectations to be shaken to make room for what is, and what is to come.

We learn new things this way. We leave with thoughts and questions. Most of all, we leave with energy running along our skin.

To say, with all our might “I am alive, and I’m not afraid to die!” requires an opening, a trust, a giving over to the spirits of event. It requires a softening and a strengthening. A curiosity that lives beyond opinion. A letting go of habit.

Sometimes it isn’t always shaped the way we want, but…The Knife Screen-Shot-2013-05-13-via


Magic shapes us. If we let it.