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Elan Vitae


  • Michael Scholtz


What is the feeling of lightness? It describes positive aspects of human existence including physical agility, emotional lightheartedness, intellectual curiosity, or spiritual fulfillment. And when lightness is present in any of these manifestations, you may notice that you feel joyful, unencumbered, bright, or lithe.

We often think of lightness in contrast to what it is not. In those moments when heaviness or darkness bear down you might feel burdened, alone, or afraid. And it is at these times that it is most important to know that the source of human lightness comes from within.

“A lot of what is most beautiful about the world arises from struggle.” – Malcolm Gladwell

When you are burdened, by stress or grief or fear, light may appear when you receive help. Someone comes to you with open arms to support you in your struggle or to carry your load and let you rest. Or it may appear for you over time as grief gives way to appreciation or anxiety transforms into relief.

This unburdening represents the quality of lightness that is necessary for you to move forward, to learn and grow. You experience personal trials and emerge walking upright and tall, putting one strong leg in front of the other, and shedding the chains that weighed you down. This is the lightness of gratitude and serenity. It is a smile in response to memories of loss. A deep breath of quiet confidence when recalling a challenge lived through. It is the stretching of tired muscles, long tense from carrying the yoke, from striving and steadying the load.   

You are unburdened, free to move and recollect and understand that, yes, you are capable after all. There is contentment in this quality of lightness. The scar of your battle is a spark of inner happiness and an earned resolve.

“Not all who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Other moments in your journey you may find yourself untethered. Not in that way in which we sometimes feel adrift, but rather a feeling of being unencumbered. These are the times when you feel aligned with the universe.

This is not control. In these moments you are acutely aware that you are not in charge. Yet, you recognize your power to choose your direction, where to apply your focus and energy, and how you want to be in the world.

This lightness is like floating, soaring. You are weightless and totally free. Perhaps it is joy you feel related to some job well done, or a connection made that you’d not noticed before. You might be keenly aware of a well-worn love, it’s warm light washing over you like evening sun through a favorite window. Or it may be the intense white hot light of a new love; a lightness that penetrates your spirit and leaves you breathless like holding your child for the first time. Just as likely, it might be hope that you feel, lifting you like a thermal arising from human spirit upon witnessing people supporting or comforting or inspiring one another.

“The prettiest eyes sparkle from the inside out.” – Atticus

In some rapturous moments along your path, you will feel such lightness as to believe you must be trembling. You are effervescent, bubbling up with passion and vibrating through to your essence.

At these times you are joined to your purpose in this world. You are in flow, seamlessly joined to what provides meaning in your life, so aligned with what your soul tells you is simple and true that you put your shoulder to the wheel without doubt or question, and engaged so deeply that the effort feels light as a feather.

This sparkling, this giving off light to the world and those persons who share these moments with you, connects you to that world and those people. You are part of something larger than yourself.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s easy to suppose that there exists in these descriptions some hierarchy, and that aligning with your purpose is the only worthwhile achievement. In some ways this is true. Achieving your higher purpose is often described as the source of the deepest sort of happiness.

Still, it’s also true that each of these qualities of lightness is valuable at precisely the time you need it most. No matter at what point of your journey you are on in a particular moment, you can invite the light in. As you lay down a burden, the light is gratitude and self-belief. As you fly untethered, the light is courage and joy.  As you lean into your purpose, the light is connection and synergy.

When you let this light in, darkness is driven out. Each experience of lightness creates, in its unique way, a space inside you where new growth takes root, leaving your heart open and ready to ascend to some new and higher quality of light.

And as you ascend you will see that this higher quality of light does, in fact, emanate from inside you. Through having the audacity to look within yourself, grace and self-compassion for what you find there, and willingness to expand beyond your growth edges, the light that you let in is reflected to the world, completing a harmonious loop, and leaving you feeling utterly whole.

Original image by: Jennifer Bristol


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