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Readers: We scavenged the globe to find pieces by fierce female writers to compile The Global Memoir Anthology. Through extensive communication and dedication, we, the Girls Write Here staff, present to you Viva La Vida. Back in early September we sent out a call to writers – asking girls near and far to contribute their own experiences of when they felt most alive. These past few months have been filled with editing and tweaking these memoirs. It has been a long road, but what has resulted is extraordinary. This is the first anthology of its kind – an online global anthology of memoirs written by teen girls for teen girls. Do enjoy, The Girls Write Here staff

Our World, Our Memories Contents

Emily Levin Jharana Greene Allison McHayle Betsy Smith Ana Shirakatsy Jodie Wilson Nina Moldrup Anna Marie Beard Iman Ahmed Busra Cakal Aggremma Sethi

“Chasing Crosswalks” “Childlike Infatuation” “A Little Splash” “Shaky Knees” “Everybody Saw the Rain” “The Story That Didn't End” “Riding With Freedom” “Music Geekery” “The Kingda Ka” “From White Belt Newb to Black Belt Expert” “Alive and a Trillion Miles Away”

“Chasing Crosswalks” Emily, New York There’s nothing quite like roaming the streets of New York at night— think the whirlwind buzz described by the protagonist of Bright Lights Big City, except without the drugs. I go running down Park Avenue at night, go shopping for toiletries at the 24-hour drug store and sometimes just go walking with a friend. Still, I’ve learned that the pursuance of an adrenaline rush isn’t truly enough. I’ll never remember every time I went to buy deodorant at 2:00 am, or every time I went night running. It’s because there’s more to feeling alive than “feeling alive.” Ultimately it’s the tiniest of interactions with others that come to characterize our experience of any given moment, allowing us to most appreciate our own humanity. Growing up in my neighborhood in Manhattan, we’ve always had our neighborhood hobo. His name is James. Everyone knows James. And, if you don’t know him, you don’t live there. Sometimes he’s downright scary, like the time he tried to kill my father with the lid of a trashcan—the police say he’s schizophrenic. Sometimes, he’s the nicest man you’ll ever meet, like when he helped a fallen rollerblader in the middle of the night. This is about that fallen rollerblader because one summer night, at 1:00 am, the me.

It was approaching the dead. When people stick to conditioned offices while their when remaining teenagers bask city, whilst smoking ill-gotten

rollerblader was

part of the summer when the city seems subway seats, when fathers hide in airfamilies are away at the beach, and in the glorious humidity enveloping the Marlboros on the Great Lawn. Friends

were trickling out one by one and for the time being we—my younger sister and I—were still there. The city may have been moving at the typical, eerily slow pace of late July; we were not. Like many, we felt smothered by the heat; but unlike those around us, we were determined to avoid falling victim to the painfully slow tempo. Somehow, we got it into our heads that rollerblading and scootering around the neighborhood, in the middle of the night, sounded like a great idea. Now, I’ve never been a great rollerblader. I like to think I can rollerblade, but I don’t even pretend that I’ve got the whole stopping thing down. But we’ve never let a pesky thing like safety or logistics serve as an impediment to our poor decision-making. And so, off we went. The air was thick and stuffy, but a few young people were still out. They called out to me by name, so I must have known them; but we were whizzing down fifth avenue and had no desire to stop. Instead, I sarcastically shouted back, “Wanna race? Guess not. WE WIN!!” They quickly faded into the background as Chloe and I raced each other down an increasingly deserted 5th avenue. We created our own wind and were conquerors of the street. Eighteen or so city blocks from our doorstep, we reached 72nd and my sense of responsibility kicked in; we began head to back. We still felt on top of the world, but when we crossed over to Park Avenue for a change of scenery, we found ourselves, quite literally, at the bottom of a hill. We raced up to the top, but by the time we reached 90th street, our adrenaline high was fading fast. Reality began to hit us and the thickness of the air became more noticeable. We’re almost home when I hear “Emily, it’s hot. Let’s go get icecream.” I make a sharp turn in the direction of the Korean deli on the corner at the end of the next block, almost loosing my balance. We’re right outside the deli and I’m slightly nervous because James is in my periphery. I rush Chloe inside the store but while doing so trip and fall face first to the ground. James comes running to the rescue, initially adding panic into the mix with the “oh-crap-I-screwed-up” feeling. The panic soon dissipates; he doesn’t care that my knees and my hands are bleeding all over him. He helps take my skates off and holds them as I walk the block and a half home in my

green mid-calf socks. He walks beside me the whole way, and makes sure I make it inside. Meanwhile…Chloe trails behind with three pints of ice cream in a plastic back over the handle of her scooter; typical. I know this might seem like an odd way to end a memoir or to get to the point. It might even seem like I don’t have one. But life leaves you with those questions, too. That night, I went from escaping reality, to feeling on top of the world, to a fall that should have been met with a visit to the hospital. To me, feeling truly alive happens in context and this night—the lows, the highs and the unexpected kindness—encapsulated my experience of the world all in one evening.

“Childlike Infatuation� Jharana Green, New York

Hopped up on the energy of the cool fall night air, I run out the screen door, letting it slam behind me as I throw myself into the pile of leaves that fully envelops my body. As time continues on, seconds change into minutes and minutes seem like hours, I sit in the leaves under the full moon entranced by the illumination of the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Sitting in those leaves, feeling the crunch under me, I swish my hands back and forth. I am taking in and using every sense in my body all for this one moment, soaking in all the beautiful pain and breathing it out, releasing it from my body, smelling the fresh air, feeling the leaves, tasting the freedom I rarely have, seeing the one bright light in the complete darkness, and feeling engulfed in the silence of the sweet, sweet darkness. I sit in those leaves breathing in my pure, untouched medicine, numbing my body from the world, numbing all my pain, numbing all my suffering, numbing all my thoughts for that one moment in time. I hear the door slam closed behind me as a tall man with a funny beard walks outside, lighting up his cigarette in the darkness. My darkness. As I listen for him to criticize my childlike infatuation with the vibrant leaves, he instead starts manifesting the emotions of my body and my mind into his poetry, astounding me with the accuracy of his impression of my

soul. As he takes in one puff after another, I wrinkle my nose at the smell of his cigarette. It is contaminating my perfect, fresh freedom with instead the smell of tar-like smoke. In this moment, I feel as if he is a part of my body that has been ripped from me, and placed right in front of me to reveal the things I can bare to say. I can’t fully see him as he is too far behind me, and I am too bewitched by the moon to be fully conscious of his presence. I feel as if he is my inner voice, forcing itself from my body. But with such a calming voice, I can’t tell he’s not part of me. That calm and subtle voice with no cares in the world rings in my ears with such resonance that everything is blurred together for me. The darkness tightens more and more around my body, forcing all the air from my lungs to create a cloud of breath in front of my face, frozen in the moment. The lines of my life have no up down left or right because nothing is anything and anything is possible in this one moment, this infinite moment. While I sit here motionless for a period of time, just staring at the moon, imagining everything, I feel so empty, yet so alive.

“A Little Splash” Allison McHayle, Jamaica

We had reached the hotel after hours of driving on the rough, bumpy roads that were so narrow if we stuck our hands through the window we would be sure to touch the car driving next to us. The hotel stood estranged from the picturesque one we had seen in the brochure days before. My face grew frightened at the idea of sleeping on beds that had more dirt and bugs than a garden. My mom quickly glared through the corner of her eye to remind me that the reason we were here was because of me. After cajoling, she agreed that it would be in all of our best interest to find a better place. My two best friends, my mom’s friend and I packed up. We were off to restart our journey. A large grin grew on my face as I realized that I would be a few short hours away from what I had actually come here for. As I left the car I quickly noticed the ombre as the grass gradually connected to the sandy shore of a beach. There as I continued to walk with two friends, I could hear the sharp sound of the steel pan in the music. It was that time a year again, that was iconic to all soca loving Caribbean people. The music reminded us all to wine our waists and the pending carnival and road march that would be a week later. As we stepped on to the party grounds there were people laughing and wearing their swimsuits and old white clothes. People fled from all over, whether it was the city, like me, nearby towns, other coastline parishes or other islands. I was ready and awaiting one thing, the paint. I would constantly ask my friend Diarra “ When is going to hit? When are they going to start throwing it out?” She simply shrugged and tried to speak over the music, muttering, “jus cool nuh man.” She too was growing restless waiting for the gallons of paint that we have travelled so far, seen so many pictures of, to be doused all over our skin. Beach Jouvert was a large party, important to the Bacchanal carnival experience, held every year in Ocho Rios. Carnival in the Caribbean did not involve corndogs, dunk tanks, Ferris wheels nor stilts. Instead it was filled with bejeweled costumes,

vibrant colours, loud calypso and Soca music, parties and a road parade with floats. After dancing and greeting many other friends I heard someone shout, “THEY BROUGHT OUT THE PAINT!” I began to run with the mass of other people towards the area in which the paint had been set out. Anticipating a blow, I closed my eyes tightly feeling the rhythm of the music and expecting to be smothered in colours. Nevertheless, I realized after a few minutes that nothing had happened. It was already 7:00 pm! The Caribbean breeze was blowing violently and the sun had already faded. Suddenly the DJ began playing a song that kept repeating, “you ready, you ready.” I felt a sprinkle on my face so light, I thought it was starting to rain. When I went to wipe it away, it was yellow. Instantly, a bucket of blue thick, warm paint splashed all over my face as the music grew louder and louder. I couldn’t help but laughing. More and more paint was being thrown everywhere and it felt as if a rainbow was falling from the sky. I felt as if the earth had lifted from my feet. Diarra realizing how enthusiastic I was, remarked, “Wow, you seem to be having too much fun.” I flashed an Oscar winning smile back at her saying, “It’s not only the fun, it’s the music, the freedom and the culture. It makes me feel so alive!”

“Shaky Knees” Betsy Smith, Texas “Don’t think! Just jump,” my counselor screamed as I flew through the air, feeling the warm lake water splash onto my pointed toes. For the past seven years, I had spent two weeks every summer at an overnight camp in a very small town in Texas. I had built great relationships with all of the 21 girls in my cabin, and I had enjoyed every second of my life at camp. To celebrate our final year as campers, our four counselors surprised us by taking us on a bus trip to get ice cream. We never got to leave camp grounds, so this was a huge deal. I was sitting next to my best friend on the bus ride, and we were reminiscing about all of our camp memories. I was completely focused on a campfire tale when my friend turned to me and whispered, “Bee, we just passed the only ice cream store in town.” “Where are they taking us?” I pondered. I knew my counselors would never put me in a dangerous situation, but I was confused as to why they had lied to us. I had the right to know where I was going. I felt as if I had been blindfolded and thrown in the back of a trunk by the people I had trusted for the past twelve days. I looked around, hoping to find a clue about our destination. I saw nothing but a few steep rocks overhanging a body of water. The bus jerked to a stop and barely pulled off the road. “Girls, find a partner and exit the bus in an orderly fashion,” the head counselor urged as we frantically hovered over our seats, wondering who would be the first to get off the bus.

“What’s going on?” my bus buddy asked, out of habit. I grabbed her arm and dragged her to the front of the bus. The few fearless bones in my body wanted to be the first to do whatever it was we would be doing. The second my feet touched the gravel, I saw a stranger dive off the rock that was directly in front of me. In those two seconds, I knew my friends were talking, but I could not hear anything they said. Was the lake deep enough to jump into? Why had I heard a splash and no breathing? Did the man make it out of the water? “WOOO!” a deep voice yelled as the weight lifted off my shoulders. “I would never do that,” I thought. My few fearless bones had broken, leaving a scared girl. I felt a tapping on my shoulders. “Bee, Bee, BEE! It’s our turn now. Come on, the counselors are getting impatient,” my best friend said to me, not realizing I had not been paying attention to anything the counselors had said. I am scared of heights. No matter how old I am, I always get shaky knees when faced with heights. I never thought I would cliff jump, but for some reason, I agreed to in the moment. I did not ask a single question about safety, because I was afraid of what I would hear. Also, I knew if I gave myself any more time to think about it, I would change my mind. My senses kicked into high gear. The only thing I saw was the space where I wanted to land. The only thing I heard was my best friend counting to three. The only thing I felt was my feet leaving the ground. For a fraction of a second, there was complete silence. I felt like I was flying. I had never felt more alert, more animated, more active than this moment when I questioned if I was even alive. “Don’t think! Just jump,” my counselor screamed as I flew through the air, feeling the warm lake water splash onto my pointed toes. My body submerged in the water, feet first, then finally, my head. My toes touched the bottom of the lake and I torpedoed off, forcing my invigorated body back up into the air. I had made it!

“How do you feel, Bee?” my counselor asked as I climbed back up the rocks. “Alive,” I replied back, “and ready to go again.”

“The moment when I felt most alive� Ana, Armenia

Love, and peace filled my mother's eyes along with voracious waiting and my scream which informed everyone about my birth. I was born, and have grown, and lived with a desired dream. Some time ago I watched the video which contained fragments of the last minutes of human life. With the last instant of it my life was perfectly changed. Since that moment I have enjoyed every second, every minute which I can live. I began to appreciate life more than anything else. I'm sure everybody sees the rain. But have you ever tried to feel it? Feel how the sky is crying, how these tears are kissing the grass, buildings and everything that belongs to Earth. Have you tried to understand that the reason of their return is that they miss the mother land? Because they emerged on the earth, little by little they went away from mother land, but

the deep miss made them fall down. Do you know why the sky, this lightweight pile of gases, is crying? Because it can’t attain to mother land, but instead of it, it gave us the sun. Every morning from dusk to dawn I live with the sun and when the sun gives his place to the moon I complete my day with the moon, I'm born with every star, and in the breath of the world I find my own one, I see my spirit's light in this boundless sky, I'm searching for myself in life, and at the same time I live with the spirit of the galaxy. When I'm sleeping that spirit resolves me into my dreams bosom and again I start to live, but now in an absolutely different world. The world which is directly devoid of the feeling of time. My spirit, my heart, and my imagination, my wishes and why not the future reigns in this world. The reason for the creation of this world is the big passion to live in the human mind. The body’s rest allows the human mind to satisfy feelings one is unable to experience while conscious. I'm alive with love for everything, I'm alive with love for all that I hate as there is only one small step from love to hatred and vice versa. As for the love, in life I can’t live unless I know what love is, because everything that exists is the birth of love. Love for parents, family, items and science, love for the world and life. Life which is given only once and which I must live with dignity, live with all my soul and not only for body and instincts survival. Some days ago I was speaking to a friend of mine who is doing military service and every second is exposed to the risk of loss of life. I'm sure that many of us have experienced the unhappy feeling, which we call fear. There is one thing which makes us feel alive, it is the fear for time. However we must be alive. We girls have a big advantage... We must live to create a new life. All the moments which we live we become conscious we can live with birth of our love, with the miracle which we give birth.

And it means that since our birth and to the end of our life we live without losing a second. I live full of thanks to God's love, because I am ALIVE...

“The Story That Didn’t End� Jodie, Australia The moment I felt breath, in a panic, not to get away. Not running As fast as I walked I was running from was voice whispered to me. I the tracks. I heard the move, not really thinking loud noise beeped again.

most alive, I was short of realizing how fast I was trying from someone but something. couldn't get away. This thing I inside my head. This little was standing in the middle of train beep at me. I couldn't about what I was doing. The

The hardest part is, no one understands. People don't get why. They never will. When you're falling apart inside, all you want is to disappear. If you just walk in front and stand still, you could leave forever. Never say another word. No more worries in the world. For you. At this stage the only thought running through your head is what about them. The people I call family. Would they really care? You don't realize it at the time, but if you're gone, a part of them goes too. When almost dying, I was alive but alive in my own little world. No one could get to me, no one could hurt me. Not even this monster inside my head. I was okay for a minute, a second. But that all ended... I realized I could never take back what I was about to do. My heart was broken so I thought breaking everyone else's by dying might help... It didn't, it just ruins lives. If I were to die in that very moment every place I've ever been and every person I had ever met would have changed, no matter how little we spoke or how little we knew each other, a little bit inside of their heart would have been hurt. I felt so alive because I was alive, I am alive, and there is nothing more beautiful. It's hard growing up in front of all of you, and I know I was going to have a fall or two. I have to learn to accept that. I took a step back, felt all the air brush past me and just fell. Not a thought in my head, everything disappeared and I just didn't care. I felt dead, a moment of pure numbness. But then everything came rushing back, all the thoughts and all the feelings inside of my head. It's like an explosion of confusion, love, sadness, heart break and then there comes a moment when you feel guilty. Guilty about being this way, thinking maybe there's something wrong with me. It's so hard to comprehend all these little

thoughts at once. It's weird how when I felt most alive is just after the moment I was about to die... I believed I was worth nothing, that if I just slipped away no one would really notice, no one would care. I felt most alive right in that moment. That moment was the one time I realized how beautiful everything was. How much this thing called life really meant to me. There's nothing wrong with me, I'm a teenager. Things get hard, life gets difficult! No one teaches you the perfect way of living and it's not possible to get through life without making mistakes. I made a mistake and this is why I'm alive today. From that night, I've learnt that life is not something to take for granted. I have lived every day to the fullest since.

“Riding With Freedom” Nina, Denmark Like a lost child found, a forgotten letter opened and old ashes bursting into flames. We knew it wasn’t good in major doses so we waited until we craved it so much it hurt in our guts. Exactly how many days had passed without a slight touch of the long lost feeling of freedom? We were craving the emptiness and satisfaction the feeling gives on a whole new level.

Until now we had clustered ourselves inside where the feeling of warmth from the open fire lit up our fingertips and we all felt a little nostalgic for summer. The grass crunched underneath the hooves of my dark brown horse as we crossed the open dead land. The sky was milky white and the ground was hard and tempered from the many weeks of frost. The leaves had gone with the wind weeks ago, leaving the forest naked and vulnerable. The silence was remarkable. I thought of summer and how full of life the forest had been just a few months ago. Now it had gone into a deep sleep and I wondered if it would ever come back to life. But it was in these cold days that I saw the rough nature clearly. How a long slumber or even death for some of the creatures of nature could be beautiful and peaceful. The sleeping forest was quiet as a graveyard, and the silence was a hiding place for the lonely soul. My horse, a young and inexperienced creature, thought of the forest as a minefield. Every branch, every sound, was dangerous and exciting. Whenever a lonely bird would come out of its hideout, she would whine and whip her tail through the thin air, making a sound like soft whiplashes. Big breath mists left my nose, as well as my horse's. I stopped her with a slow movement and for once she listened to me, but only because it meant one thing. We had reached our goal. Somewhere on a long wide path between forest and meadow, we found ourselves on this cold November morning. The cold wind sent chills down my spine and my horse tensed her muscles underneath me. She stood still, scraping her right hoof against the barren ground. I felt the tension rising as she started shaking her head impatiently. I knew that it was a very appreciated ritual. We would always gallop down the patch in high speed while leaving the swirling air and my worries behind. The secession from a world full of trouble and worries never lasted more than a few seconds, but it was worth the wait. My horse started tripping and a transparent steam rose from her soft back underneath me. For a few seconds we stood looking at the patch, and I forgot about school, family, friends, and the future. All these worries seemed to slip away as they always did when the tension rose before her

liberation. I took a deep breath and let go of the reins. I did not even have to push her to gallop; she was already in high speed. The ice cold wind cooled my face and tears started running down my rose red chins. The ground underneath us seemed to disappear and I felt like we were flying. Her breathing got uneasy and deeper but the will to run was incredible. The only thing I could see through my tweaked eyes was her mane whipping into my face. I whispered a little hurry in her ear and we accelerated even more. This ride was always a place I would let go of life and feel complete freedom. Not only to leave trouble and worries behind for just a short time but also to lift an unknown pain from my chest, and as the forest flew by, so did my past flashing across my mind’s eye like a movie, that became more and more transparent, until it disappeared and my mind seemed cleared of all good and bad. Such relief no other occasion could create. I knew that in a few seconds we would have to slow down, but I suddenly felt something different, I felt something in my leg, I felt pain. A little deer ran out on the patch and looked at us with its big Bambi eyes. My horse stopped running but the ground was hard and there was nothing to slow us down. It all happened very suddenly. I felt my body being pushed onto her mane and suddenly flew over her like a ball being thrown. The deer had disappeared and as I laid in the frozen grass I could not help but think; where did it come from, and why had I not been more careful? Why had I been selfish enough to let the possibility of hurting three lives today? This was not who I was. My leg was not the only thing hurting at this point, my heart was aching as well. The sky was still milky white and the ground was still tempered and death wasn't such a beautiful thing any longer, because it could have involved me. So close and yet on the right side of the edge of what could have ended a very short life, hardly a respectable way to satisfy the feeling of freedom that seemed to relieve a heavy pain from my chest, a burden that I later defined as reality.

"Music Geekery� Anna Marie, Tennessee

There has not been a moment, one singular moment, where I have felt the most alive, I am sorry to say. There has not been a second where I could point and say, “There. There is the pinnacle of my life, the instant where I knew well and truly what it meant to live, to exist. That is the moment that has defined me.” To try and find one would be tiring, frustrating, and wholly impossible. Yes, there are moments that have come close. We all have experienced those moments, those adrenaline-filled instances where we have felt as if we stood on the brink, a hairs-breadth away from something marvelous and grand. But then the moment fades, and it is gone, and you can only go looking for the next thrill as a replacement. I feel as if those moments are like drugs. They lend the impression of fulfillment, of joy, but inevitably fade and leave you wanting more. No, those are not where I have felt the most alive. I believe that I feel the most alive when I listen to truly great music. Music is… incredible. Through a series of seemingly random noises, a composer can provoke joy, despair, triumph or loss. They can elicit emotion with something as commonplace as sound. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it crazy to think that you are capable of such feats, with something as commonplace as your voice? I realize that all art forms, not just music, are supposed to achieve this result; however, I have yet to find an art form that touches me on the level that music does. I believe it is the participatory aspect of music

that appeals to me- I do so enjoy an opportunity to sing. Whatever the cause, it is music that brings out the most of me: the hidden quirks and the buried depths. There is a thrill in producing music that I have yet to find anywhere else. I drive my family crazy with the constant noise I produce, the humming and the tapping and the poor harmonization on particularly long car rides, but music is hard to quit once you have found it. Music is also like a drug, in that respect. I have taken to wandering my yard at night, bellowing out partial lyrics to songs I partially know, waving my hands in the air as I conduct an invisible band, or orchestra, or whatever has caught my fancy that night, trying to provide an outlet for the indescribable emotions that are rising within me. I must look like a lunatic while I do it, but does that really matter? I am doing what I love, what makes me feel alive, and that surpasses the little things, like what people think of me. So I would say that the moments (for it is impossible to distinguish from the many the “best�) I feel the most alive would be when I am completely enraptured in music. They are in the swelling chorus, the thrilling descant, the powerful bass and the pounding drums. They are when I experience music, because that is what makes me feel alive, and elicits the purest and most complete form of me.

“The Kingda Ka” Iman, New York I felt like I was flying. The air combed through my hair. Never before had I felt like I was able to accomplish anything, let alone ride a rollercoaster. It was the summer of 2012 when my family and I went to Six Flags, the Great Adventure theme park. I could see all the roller coasters from the parking lot with their loops, turns, and passengers screaming for their lives. I was enthused to finally be able to ride the one roller coaster I had been dreaming of riding. The Kingda Ka. I had heard so much about this roller coaster. It’s the tallest and the fastest in the country. I walked closer and closer to the entrance, overjoyed by the fact that in 10 minutes I would be able to say that I had rode the Kingda Ka. Waiting in line was probably the most nervewracking part of the whole day. I waited anxiously as questions flooded through my mind such as “what if it breaks?” and “what if I die?” Then, the time came and I took my seat on the ride, in the very first seat! Butterflies fluttered through my stomach as the trolley started to move. It stopped abruptly right in front of the start of the ride, waiting there for about two minutes. Apart from the line, this waiting period was probably the most nerve-wracking time yet. Zoom. As we started to move, the only thing in my mind was “this is amazing.” The feeling I had was incredible. I felt like I was flying. As the roller coaster went up the track I could tell we were close to the drop. To me, the drop was the scariest part. We were on the top in no time, and I could see the whole park from there. Even though we were only at the top for a few seconds, it felt like forever. I felt like I was on top of the world, and I was higher than anyone else. In that very moment I felt weightless and I felt like I was falling. I felt ALIVE. In a matter of seconds, the roller coaster dropped and quickly came to an end. Again, I felt like I was back to normal: I wasn’t flying, I wasn’t weightless, I was alive but I wasn’t. Now as I look up at that spot on that roller coaster, I remember the way I felt before: alive.

“Alive and a Trillion Miles Away” Aggremma, India

"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love." - Marcus Aurelius The gift of life is an honor bestowed upon us that should never be taken for granted. However, living necessarily does not mean being alive, the two things are very distinct from each other. The mere existence on Earth does not make you alive, then what exactly is being alive? Is it a feeling of exhilaration? Is it a moment of solitude? Or is it being in a state of tranquility? For all of us the meaning of being alive is different. For me it is a moment when all of my senses suddenly come to life, all energy is channeled positively, and I am fully aware and right there living in that very moment of time and nowhere else, with no one else. Getting to experience a moment like that brings me utter delight and happiness. The feeling of actually truly being myself is one of pure joy. Most people feel alive when they get to interact with nature, push themselves to the limit, or even drown in their own senses. It is usually a very grand occasion, but my moment of being alive was very unusual. I came across an article which stated that "…on April 27, 2013, the biggest and brightest cosmic explosion witnessed in over two centuries was recorded, but it was far enough from Earth for the blue planet to have escaped its wrath…". Even the smallest sound of the rustling leaves, chirping birds, and running squirrels suddenly became so clear. People get a high from jumping off a cliff, but this small sentence "…because this 'monster burst' was 3.7 billion light years away, mankind was spared…" hit

me like a blow to the back of my head. It made me realize that it is not just life on Earth that is uncertain but also what is outside of it. The sudden enlightenment from this statement gave me a rush of adrenaline which was not only exhilarating but also intoxicating. It was like deep sea diving; only I was diving into myself. It made me want to shout at the top of my voice "I am alive! ", breathe in all the air that I could, and live in that moment for as long as I could. As ridiculous as this may seem to you, it was how I felt at the time. This burst of happiness still lingers with me. However, it also brings along with it the sense of dread that because of an explosion in outer-space, I may not be able to experience the next second of my life. But as frightening as it is, the joy of being alive this second is simply overpowering. This moment may not seem momentous, or grand, or significant to you, but it is the smallest things in life that leave an impact and make a difference. To me this experience was truly momentous, in every sense grand, in every way significant, and to its core describes what it truly means to be alive. "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

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