Strip Your Soul Naked, Then Find What’s Left.
“Are you afraid of death?” he asked me curiously with his inquisitive, yet caring, eyes.
His eyes were like those of a father caring for his child: nudging her out of the nest to fly towards the wonders of the world, yet wanting to protect her from all its ills and the black truths of her own heart.
The question rattled through my bones. Everyone stopped breathing again, and at this point the only thing alive in this gray room was the dust bathing in a stream of faded sunlight waltzing through the dirty window. I had been expecting the question.
I knew it was coming, because after all, I was the third and last one he asked.
So I was prepared. I was ready to take on death and brush it off my lip like a crumb of sinful dark chocolate. I was ready to devour it. To swallow it. Like it never even existed.
But as I opened my mouth to gulp it down with a loud and pretentious No, my tongue twisted, and out came a silent Yes, I am.
Damn it, I thought. Hell yes, I was scared. Of course! But I hadn’t planned on admitting that. I had planned on fighting weakness with strength.
Yet there I was, sitting in that grey room which now harbored my bluntly naked truth running around wildly and aimlessly, hitting the walls over and over again in an attempt to find a way out, to find an escape from the impending question of Why?
“Why are you afraid?” he asked, and immediately I felt my chest being tied up and the air sucked out of my mouth. I stopped running. Fuck this, I thought. He’s always had the gift of asking such overpowering questions.
Questions that just strip you naked to your soul, rip your heart open to bleed, and then force you to look at yourself in the mirror and find what’s left.
Though I tried everything to enrobe my truth and keep my eyes closed, I just couldn’t. There was something so much stronger within me and all I could feel was its force bursting through my body, taking me by storm.
And when I felt the first bloodstained tears leaking through my heart and up to my eyes, I couldn’t help but surrender. And thus, with wet eyes and trembling from the inside out, I finally answered:
“I am afraid I’ll die before I have given it my all.”
Had I really just said that out loud?
I guessed I had because before I knew, I saw the grayness of the room lifting and felt how the cells of my body started dancing with the dust particles in the golden light of the sun. And right there, for the first time in a long time, I breathed again, feeling the warm breeze of life streaming out of me.
I realized right there that he had in fact asked me exactly the right question at the moment where I needed it most. It was as if he knew I had been swallowing the air around me like a drug, never able, nor ready, to let it out again.
As if he knew I had taken in so much of the world; that what I thought felt fulfilling was actually suffocating me from inside. As if he knew that like a plant in the rain I had soaked up all the water I could possibly drink, yet forgotten to grow from it, slowly drowning instead.
The truth is, I had shut myself off from the world. Out of fear, out of pain, out of disappointment, out of weakness, and out of shame.
Because just like others, I had messed up, had been hurt, had failed, had given up, had lost faith, in others, in myself, in my worth, and had ended up on the ground, beaten down, asking myself every goddam day what I could possibly ever give to anyone?
Truth is, we spend so much time in life defining our value with what we have to offer to others.
We walk our feet numb and bloody and watch our eyes sightless and blind searching for meaning, looking for purpose, and when we find nothing, we deduct that we are worth nothing.
Believing there is nothing left to us, we retreat within the darkest chambers of our hearts with the intent to never come out again, not knowing that what we had been looking for had always just been sleeping on the other side of the wall.
What I found was ‘Life’.
I do know now that we always carry life within us, but sometimes we just can’t seem to find it anymore no matter how hard we look. And that’s when we need someone who will help guide us to it.
Someone who will strip us naked of all the walls we’ve build and the masks we’ve worn so that we finally see that there is so much more life left to us than we thought.
That’s exactly what I finally saw, and as I stood there, marveling at the warmth and love and magic rushing out of me. I could feel how I was slowly merging with the world around me, in a rising and ebbing flow, and inspirited by its undeniable vibrancy, all I desired was to live.
To live, fully and unrelentingly, with the awareness of being madly alive and wildly in love with it.
I knew in that moment that if I did exactly that, then there would be nothing else anyone could ever ask me for. Because by being alive I would be giving it my all!
So to those who feel like they have nothing to give, I say, “Be Alive!” You have so much life inside you. More than you could ever imagine.
So strip yourself, look at that pounded heart of yours and let your life roar.
Let your love shine. Let your lungs shout. Let your feet run. Let your hands touch. Let your soul find the life inside you and then let yourself do what you came here to do: Be Alive!
Then, once you are, go and infect everyone who crosses your path with this unyielding fire. Strip them to the soul, grab their hearts, help them breathe, make them see. Remind them of their magic. Make them wonder. Make them dance. And then let them run wild with you.
“Because what the world needs are more people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman
I am fully aware that this is not without any risks or pains for others, or myself, but truth be told, I’d rather hurt than live without. I’d rather feel everything than nothing at all. And I don’t care if you call me a crazy fool. In fact I hope you do, because I am done being a breathing corpse.
So here I stand and vow that from this day on I will be unapologetically alive with every fiber of my naked being. Why? Because I must. I owe it to myself.
And even though, in the end, I might still be afraid of death, I will know for sure that I gave it my all, and by doing so I helped show others the world, touched their timid hearts with the warmth of life, and made them come alive as well.
And what more, I ask you, what more could you possibly ever want to do?
Life is in all of us, we just need to find it.
Julie Schadeck is a student and lover of life who cherishes the little things. She believes that life is an adventure, learned to not take it too seriously and laughs at the punches it throws at her. Sarcastic, sensitive and compassionate, her recent coming to life has filled her heart with the urge to share what she learned and help others. She believes that we all have something to give, that our differences unite us and that we should never believe someone telling us what we cannot do.