If I were in charge of breathing, I would be dead. On average, an adult human being takes about 23,000 breaths in one day. Can you imagine telling your body to breathe 23,000 times in one day? Probably not. Probably, we’d be dead together. With all of our friends. Unless you have Zen master friends who live on mountaintops and devote their whole attentions to breathing. I don’t have those friends. I have friends like you, who tend to a MILLION different things in a day – important things like taking care of each other and feeding children and making money and keeping the home organized and knowing what’s going on in the world and in the neighborhood and at school and staying in touch with loved ones and making plans and finishing projects and taking on new ones and exercising and spending time with pets and ideas and seeking pleasure and making sacrifice after sacrifice and generally getting shit done….
And breathing just isn’t on the list. Until it is.
We’ve all had moments where breathing gets put on the list. Time-stops-moments, the air leaves the room. You get a piece of information: the test results are abnormal, the funding fell through, we can’t find the heartbeat, you accidentally press Reply All, we need to talk about what happened at school today, the cancer is back, we’re getting separated, you hear about the party you didn’t get invited to, mom is in the hospital, it’s your turn to talk at the meeting and you can’t find the words, your account is overdrawn, finding THAT text on your husband’s phone, thanks for submitting your work – we’re going to pass, there’s nothing else the vet can do.
These are the moments you realize that the ONE act of living you’ve been neglecting is the VERY act that can save your Life.
In those moments, you must breathe. You do breathe. You sigh or exhale; you moan or you suck in a bunch of air before you scream out but you breathe. Because you HAVE TO. Because it’s not just number one on the list, it is the whole list: until you figure out what the fuck to do next.
Here’s what I’ve learned about those moments and the minutes and weeks that follow them: Life is coming for you.
There is no place to hide – you can try Continue reading Are You Breathing?