My mother has this HUGE book in her room about birthdays that tells the reader all about what their special day means; it’s actually rather interesting and scarily accurate. I’m born on 18th September, and apart from listing my fellow party people (hello Greta Garbo, I love you) and also the sweet disappointment that is my personal qualities, the book also has a meditation for each person. Now, I swear I’m not some super cheesy romantic, but I actually fell in love with mine. It must be fate, because I read through nearly all of the birthday meditations and none of them touched me like my own. Is it even possible to fall in love with words? Because my heart is currently owned by six: “Everything in the Universe is Alive”. I love that. I love that so much. And I’ll tell you why.
To most people, it probably looks like one of those cringe-inducing tattoos people get when they turn eighteen, using the nearest, fairly inspirational quote and which they will endure no end of ridicule for the rest of their lives. Well it’s not to me. Maybe it’s a September 18th thing, but that quote, for me, describes the moments in life we often can’t explain. So you have your “hell yeah, this is awesome” moments when something big and exciting is happening and you’re basically just LIVING the life. Then there’s the “I hate people I hate society I hate the world I hate my life EVERYONE SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE” moments. And then there’s various in-between levels of emotion. And then, there’s “Everything in the Universe is Alive” moments. It’s really hard to describe the latter, as they’re almost undescribable (and hey, spell checker tells me I just invented a word!). The closest word I could use in the English language is unpredictable; these sassy little moments pop up from nowhere and disregard any emotion you felt just a second ago. They change your mood, your attitude and can even change the whole day. They’re so teeny tiny you sometimes don’t even notice them, like a kind of sub-conscious spirity-type thing (GCSE English Language here I come).
It’s when, in that one moment (never lasting more than a minute or so) the stars and planets align, the world stops moving, you forget everything that ever bothered you and you are at the centre of the Universe and everything is alive. Like when you’ve had the most mediocre, uneventful, pointless waste of a day and you’re travelling home by car or by bus or by alpaca, and then you’re ultimate favourite song ever comes on (cough cough Robbers) and suddenly it was all worthwhile after all, and you carry on bounding clumsily along on your animal of choice through the meadows (or city streets whatever). It’s when the person you fell madly in love with a few days ago smiles at you from across the crowd. It’s when you’re about to close your curtains and you pause briefly just to admire the way the sky looks more beautiful than all the water colour paintings you’ve ever seen, in all the art galleries you’ve ever been to.
At the grand old age of fifteen I’ve not had a great number of significant “Everything in the Universe is Alive” moments. In fact, there’s only one that really stands out in my memory, from October 2014, when I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Japan as part of a student exchange programme. It was the best trip of my life for many reasons, but that’s a story for a different day. Halfway through the trip, we stayed in a youth hostel on the island of Miyajima, by the beach. At midnight, when everyone was asleep, I pushed open the sliding doors and sat outside on the balcony, dangling my legs over the edge. To my left, a mountain covered with thick forests all the way to the top. In front of me, the ocean, stretching all the way to the horizon. The only sound was the waves gently lapping the shore, which was no more than thirty metres from where I sat on my lofty perch. Everything was still except the moonlight glittering off the water. I just sat there, for goodness knows how long, and thought about everything that had happened in my life that had led me up to this point, the most difficult, worst times of my life and the absolute best, the challenges I’ve overcome and the ones that overcame me, the times when I had to be so brave and give it all the sass I possess and the times when I wish I did, the best people I ever met and the worst, the people that I’ve had to say goodbye to and the people I hope to meet, my hopes and dreams and aspirations for the future and the person I want to become. I cried until my T-shirt was wet. I smiled until my jaw ached. I poured my whole heart and soul out into that quiet ocean and let it all be washed away by the waves, ‘til the tears ran out and the smile faded and my mind went blank and there was nothing left except an overwhelming peace and stillness. I used to think that feeling nothing meant feeling empty. Feeling nothing is actually the most calming thing in the world. It wasn’t the highlight of the trip, or even the highlight of the day. But it was poignant and special. Everything in the Universe was Alive.