• The Japanese have a phrase in which they commend a person for "the nobility of failure." According to Caroline Casey, what they are doing is honoring the effort. We can look at the great things at which someone has failed and see the energy that is behind it. Even to fail, one has to be truly alive! Reframe a recent failure as evidence of your zest for life.
• Make a list of "Life Lessons." Be extravagant in your learning. Cover every period of your life so far and imagine lessons to come in the years ahead.
Discussion Questions, Storytelling, Sharing
• Share a story about a time when you felt, in Joseph Campbell's words, "the rapture of being alive."
• Share another story about a time in your life when you practiced the shadow side of zeal. It might be your participation in a vindictive, narrow-minded, or wrong-headed crusade that was not life-affirming. It might be your involvement in a group or a project that consumed all your energy so that you had no time to care for yourself or your other relationships.
• Who are the most vibrantly alive people you know? What are the keys to their vitality?
Household, Group, and Community Projects
• On Old Year's Night or New Year's Day, gather with family and friends to share stories of your "Life High Points" during the previous year. When did you feel most fully alive? Who encouraged you in your zeal? Make this an annual ritual, and watch for high points to share throughout the year. Record or videotape your sharing as a record of your experiences on the path of spiritual practice.
• Another way to learn where you come alive is to play a game like Lifestories which is designed to facilitate storytelling about experiences and different points of view. The Transformation Game allows you to choose an area of life you would like to change, or a dream you want to come true, and see what kind of feedback you get from the game and other players. Again, recording and taping the fun is recommended.
• Plan a "Toast to Life" celebration for your group or extended community. Have each person come prepared to talk about a vivid experience of being fully aroused by life. Also have each person bring a special goblet, glass, or mug to the gathering. Gather in a circle, bless your goblets, and fill them with celebratory liquids. After each person shares his or her story, all raise your glasses and toast "to Life!"