Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.
In 2018, it was the moment that we realized that the car would start. In 2017, it was the moment (or moments) that I deeply connected with a group I had just met at a conference where I thought I would have been antisocial (or just horribly socially anxious). In 2016, it was the moment that I felt in the flow in telling the story of Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2015, it was the moments after my hat was “stolen” in Rio. In 2014, it was a moment in a writing workshop that I had achieved greatness. In 2013, it was talking to Yasar Usta in Istanbul. In 2012, it was using the ocean as a “big toilet” while floating outside Palawan. In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End to the Night.
Alive? This is the thing. About a month ago, I was asked by this financial coach about when I felt the most alive so I mentioned the one in 2016 about telling the story of Ice Cream Travel Guide. But I knew that she was meaning about the moment that I felt happiest by using other words.
I could point to the moment in the Lyft as we were arriving on scene, but I am not sure if that was when I felt the most alive, in trying to determine the next path to take based on how severe the accident was.
Or was it the moment that Chris and I got separated in a Tokyo subway station. It wasn’t quite being alive, but it was devastating and perhaps traumatic.
But what is this aliveness? I get that the word is about being the most present, sitting in the moment. But does it involve emotion?
I think about these moments of the past years: when I finally finished the holiday video in celebrated in the triumph of achieving the goal that we wanted, hosting new years brunch successfully!, hanging out with the Waldo family not just in Tokyo but also traditionally in San Francisco during Thanksgiving weekend, or was it in the hospital room with Chris?
Maybe it’s truly the latter. Maybe it wasn’t the ride to the scene. But it was finding that he was okay as he looked up in confusion and then recognition. “Jennng!” he said.
It was finding him sitting on the gurney right in the middle of the hallway after this ride with the police officer through the city of San Francisco sitting on a plastic backseat. It was after we located the bike where the nurse had misremembered where its actual location (it was in the storeroom of the ER). It was after a doctor and nurse checked his vitals. It was there in the bright lights where I offered my sunglasses. It was where I said things—maybe because I was trying to pass the time. But it was as I recounted in detail.
Of course, I didn’t know that this would be the beginning of a long recovery process. One that peopl—outside people—cannot see.
I knew in that moment that as I bounded over from the hallway with my black Timbuk2 backpack and coffee mug (that I didn’t want to spill so I was holding it) and was so relieved that he was in one piece. His face was contorted in a neck brace. And then it was okay.
I would like to think that it was because I was there. But I think that it was because the future was actually known.