Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Breathe. Just Breathe.

Yesterday was all about breathing: let me explain...

On Sunday, around lunchtime, our daughter came home from the camp where she has spent all but one of her last 13 summers. This is traditionally a very difficult transition for her; usually it takes at least two weeks of grieving before she can fully re-enter "normal life."

But on Monday morning we left to fly to Vermont, and we spent most of yesterday settling into her new dorm room and connecting with old friends. I could see she was carrying a lot of voltage -- the transition was being forced into a very narrow timespace -- and every once in a while I would look at her and just say, "Breathe. Breathe."

While here I am staying with a friend whose sister just lost her husband. And last night she shared with me how close they have become through this tragedy, and wondered if, by meditating, she could bring some peace to her sister, who doesn't meditate. "If she could just breathe through her heart a few times... but she just can't. So maybe I can breathe for her."

In the car, on the way to pick up all the stuff they've stored over the summer, one of my daughter's friends, who lives in Santa Cruz, spoke of the fires that have been consuming the canyons near her home. "The air is so full of smoke," she said. "It's just so wonderful to come here and be able to breathe."

And when I signed on to my computer last night, my sister-in-law, who lives outside Los Angeles, had sent photos of the plumes of smoke which haunt her part of the world, including this beautifully eerie shot of what looks like fog in her own back yard. It's hard to breathe, she says, "We have headaches every day from this smoke."

Breathing is both the most important thing we do and the most automatic thing we do; it's one of the harder things to do consciously, and yet we become quickly conscious of it when circumstances make it difficult.

And so I find myself wondering this morning, what makes it difficult for me to breathe? Where is the smoke in my life, and where do I turn for my fresh air? And then I look at this little statue in my sister-in-law's back yard and wonder: is she, too, trying desperately to breathe? Is that stretch, which looks vaguely provocative, just an attempt to breathe? It makes me doubly grateful to be here, in the fresh Vermont air, with the sunshine filtering through the trees outside my window and the rolls of hay lying in the green fields beyond.

Breathe, I say to myself. Don't rush, don't worry. Just breathe. There's no smoke here, and no headaches in the making. So breathe. Just breathe.


Unknown said...

Amen. And I hope you have a wonderful trip, all through. XO

Anonymous said...

Ha! We are on the same page this morning. After reading your post I have this song floating through my head, sing with me...

"Slow down, you move to fast...ya gotta make the mornin' last, just...."