Here are some of the things that do it for me-- (a list-in-progress)
*Really AUTHENTIC people. (I'm throwing caps around to try and compensate for the fact that I know that this is not the exact right word.) A longer version could be: People who are the way they are because they know no other way to be nor aspire to be anything other than themselves.
* A perfect sentence that achieves depth without taking itself too seriously, maybe a surprising word or two but not big words, sometimes it is more shocking to choose the smallest, most humble word possible. Also, whole paragraphs, pages, poems, books. Virginia Woolf I am thinking of you now. There was a sentence in the LA Times review of the movie Once that Adam commented on. I loved the sentence and the man.
* The way it feels when you come out of a movie or a play that started when it was light out and now it's dark and it seems like maybe a whole day, more than a day, has passed for where you've come and gone. Especially effective if experienced with a kindred sort of spirit and you don't go and ruin the feeling with talking about it or what happened in there but instead maybe wander around silent and alone and also together.
* Watching dancers wake up their feet, flexing their toes, the veins in their arches, all the muscles along their ankles bristle, then their calves swell, the bulge build along the side of their knee up to their thighs, their hips sort of thrust forward, their torso straighten, their spines elongate up to their ears, their wingspan expand before your eyes, even their eyes stretching and breathing too, (Tyra Bank's "fierce" face)-- this is the definition of alive for me
* Certain episodes of The Office tv show. British and American editions. (I.e. 'Prison Mike')
* The way my face feels after really excellent physical intimacy or when someone I love tells me a good, surprising detail/story-- bright-eyed but also hyper-relaxed and open
* spending long enough in the woods/nature to completely lose track of time and rely solely upon darkness, light and your rumbling stomach to guide your course of action, also, the crunching of leaves or pine-coney things underfoot is so happy-making for me
* writing and directing when it feels good and true and real
I saw Miranda July at Symphony Space tonight. It was a series called "Selected Shorts" and the concept is that incredible actors read author's writing but in this case Miranda read too. Betty Gilpin read a story before (not by Miranda) and invited me and I loved seeing her on stage and in the seat next to me. The text was from MJ's new book It Chooses You which is a work of non-fiction that she wrote while she was procrastinating from finishing the screenplay for her movie The Future. (Which I saw curiously with the aforementioned Adam this past summer.) There are so many parts of the book, the project, and this evening that resonated for me. She mentioned that sometimes when she's doing something she can experience sort-of feelings of grandeur. Like, 'I'm not just going to check out these Care Bears this woman is selling in the PennySaver for 2 to 4 dollars, I'm really on a kind of VisionQuest and these people I'm meeting, and their objects, are just helping reveal to me a whole lot of other deep stuff, helping me understand what to do with Jason, how to REALLY ENGAGE with humanity, what the meaning of life is, etc.' I think I do that sometimes. I definitely did that going into the Meditation Retreat and Medicine Ceremony with Katie and Nico in Vermont in September. But ahh, sometimes/usually I think the wider the net you cast the more you might catch. I've actually never thought or said that before but it seems like a mediocre description for what I'm feeling. I think Miranda is really good at writing, and standing still and listening, and being a person who is awkward but also very real, and not put-on awkward (hipster) but just really, her essence.
I feel like my challenge and goal as an adult is to do my best to get to this feeling, and to try to create opportunities for other people to get to this feeling. To get there as often as possible. And to definitely know and celebrate it when I'm there.
I'm here now Miranda. Doesn't it feel amazing?