The opposite of life is not death.

The opposite of life is habit.

One who moves from cradle to grave
in the flip book illusion we call time
without deeply attending to this cavalcade of miracles
is one who never lived.

Lifeless are they who live by habit,
who walk by habit,
who sit by habit,
who see by habit,
who think by habit,
who feel by habit.
Lifeless are they who drift through on dead patterns
instead of giving the omnipresent Holiness its due reverence.

The alive ones meet each moment
like a dog greets its master at the door after work.
They do not think: they wonder.
They do not watch: they marvel.
They do not walk: they adventure.
They do not sit: they engage.
They do not wait: they worship.

Awe was never meant to be exceptional.
Awe is the only sane response to this mess.
The alive ones know this.
The alive ones live this.
The mundane does not exist for them.
The ordinary is a fairy tale told by the lifeless
to which the alive listen with rapt fasciation.

They take in breath with the passion of a lover in bed.
They entertain light in their retinas like a beloved guest.
They merrily lose every war with the world.
They dance without music in the frozen food aisle.
They go out into the rain with bare feet and empty wine glasses.
They greet every experience with exuberant curiosity,
and as death approaches it receives that same greeting.

And when they are gone those they leave behind
will be saddened but fulfilled,
and so very grateful,
to have known one who truly showed up here.






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33 responses to “The Alive Ones”

  1. Thank you. I planted a tree for you.

  2. Caitlin.
    You gorgeous girl,
    With your slinky, all seeing eyes.
    Giving gifts of time in observation,
    Watching, seeing, mentally engaging
    The spectral forced we dread to imagine.
    Could there be a time when the rogue journalist,
    Turns her back on the Illusion and focuses entirely on the Holiness?
    You bring the ineffable and shine it upon the beast.
    Dear Watch-fem on the tower….
    You are in my prayers,
    Surrounded by Infinite Love and LIGHT.

  3. Bernhard Eichinger Avatar
    Bernhard Eichinger

    you might like

    Sending Love

  4. Wow! So beautiful. Thank you.
    You have put many of my thoughts into this poem.
    Our gift of life is so amazing!

  5. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
    —John 3:8 (King James Version)

  6. Roundball Shaman Avatar
    Roundball Shaman

    “The opposite of life is not death. The opposite of life is habit.”
    There are good habits and there are bad habits. Bad habits are death to your soul, good habits are life. Good habits like… always wanting to learn. Always wanting to show love. Always wanting to be better than you were yesterday. Habits like eating the right foods. Habits like thinking the good thoughts. Habits like being a good partner. Habits like being true to your Faith in whatever form you choose it. Even habits like having “few” habits to allow for endless growth and spontaneity. These are all habits, too. Or should be.
    “Awe was never meant to be exceptional.”
    Great thinkers have told us to Find Your Bliss. Find and do what makes you feel alive. When you do these things, you feel Awe. Awe this way can even be… a habit!
    Why so many people prefer to go through life as miserable is truly astounding. Every single person has felt joy at some time in their life. They know what Joy is. They have felt it. It’s part of their being. Yet, people have become so confused and distorted these days that they have become alienated from seeking that Joy so much so that they seem to actively seek disorder and unhappiness. This is some form of self-hatred. Feeling like you don’t deserve to be happy or know Joy and Awe. Every moment is an opportunity to feel Joy and Awe. But you have to want to.

  7. Thank you Caitlin. Our poets save us from our dead certainties and loveless conclusions.

  8. They said to him, “Tell us who you are, so that we may believe in you.”
    He said to them, “You examine the face of the sky and the earth, but you have not recognized the one who is in your presence, and you do not know how to examine this moment.”
    —Gospel of Thomas Saying 91

  9. Lovely poem…I like what you inspire me to think…

  10. A bottle can only be so full and when it is full of self, there is no room for anything else.
    It is hard to reach for something higher while holding onto things down here.

  11. Awesome holiness

    1. Needed now more than ever

  12. Habit is a two-edged sword. Habit is an inseparable part of who we are and we spend much of our lives trying (sometimes more successfully than others) to acquire habits: how to walk, how to talk, how to play the piano, how to program a computer. If I may be permitted a sports analogy, how to skate so we can shoot, how to shoot, so we can score. Habits are what help us to efficiently, almost effortlessly, perform one process and free us to focus on another.

    Caitlin shows us the dark side of habit: habit, by design, keeps us from seeing, from feeling, from engaging, with some parts of this glorious unreality we share. Unrestrained habit is numbing to experience, tragic to behold. Habit, too, is a good servant but a bad master.

    Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” One might add, the unexamined habit is not worth having, although you will have to strive mightily to even change it let alone eliminate it. Habit is a glorious and a frightening thing!

  13. A journalist and a poet, or a poet and a journalist Caitlin?
    Paraphrasing Barry Long ‘ There are those who just live, and those who FEEL LIFE.

  14. Diana Allen, MS, CNS Avatar
    Diana Allen, MS, CNS

    Beautiful, Caitlin! Here’s to aliveness!

  15. So Caitlin decides who is truly living, and who is not? Is that not the sin of government? To decide for others how they should live their life?

  16. Ms Johnstone, Mr. Paul Edwards, like you, writes great articles.
    In truth, the case is not about commission of crime at all. It is a cruel, vindictive scam by a shamed empire to punish an honorable and ethical man for having revealed damning truths about its barbaric behavior in brazen, criminal contempt for the laws of peace and war.
    Material he published has shown the United States to have been blatantly and contemptibly false to its own people and the world. That an individual could be framed and railroaded into a corrupt process contrived to punish him for exposing America’s monstrous crimes is a moral horror that beggars belief, and yet that is the unstated intention of the government of the United States.
    This article can be read here:
    Assange And The Empire By Paul Edwards

  17. Have you ever seriously thought about time. Is time real or just a man made construct. There is no past or future only the ever present now. We live best when we live in the now. If the sun did not rise and set would we even care about time. Time is simply a means to control man. Before the invention of the time piece, tgevpassage of time was less observed and man so much more free. Be here at nine. Go there at three. We have become slaves of time. We are never truly free when we are slaves to time. Time is an illusion.

    1. Slaves to time is so true!

  18. I used to be alive but the lockdown came and I was told to put on a mask, maintain social distancing and stay at home. Now I am dead.

    1. Shouldn’t it take much more than a lockdown, a mask, social distancing, staying at home, etc. to kill the human spirit? Imagine what people in the past–in what the Chinese call “interesting times”–had to live through/endure/survive…and yet we’re still here, able to bitch about masks and such.

      1. As long as the stores don’t run out of Mountain Dew, I will find a way to survive.

        1. Don’t be so judgmental.
          Also, drinking Mountain Dew is not a survival skill.

  19. That is wonderful Caitlin, thank you

  20. As the late US photographer, critic and teacher David Vestal said, “Death is secure. Life in insecure. Which do you choose?”

  21. zbigniew dzwonkowski Avatar
    zbigniew dzwonkowski

    Caitlin, what a wonderful and powerful poem : it could turn so many semi-zombies in that world back to Life…

  22. Nice, very nice.

    I strive for a healthy discipline and take care my organization does not turn into a time robbing routine.

  23. Thank You, profoundly, Ms Johnstone! Awareness and appreciation of all life is a blessing not to be wasted on trivialities.

  24. Wow, Caitlin! That is beauty befitting a Blue Full Moon and more. Thank you!

  25. Totally kick ass observations and poetic presentation. Will be spreading this far and wide… with proper attribution of course.

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