Breathing. One of the first lessons I had when I got to music school was all about breathing (and how I wasn't doing it properly). Something so intrinsic to life, and by adulthood most of us have lost the ability to really, effectively breathe. Taking air in through your nose, keeping your shoulders down and relaxed, letting it fill your lungs from the bottom up, like water filling a barrel. Allowing your chest to expand, taking up space, and then releasing it, controlled, smooth - out, in again, out. Time slows down when I practice breathing. Everything seems quieter, less pressing; all the focus is on the air. In...out. Feeling the oxygen working its way to starved cells, the odd feeling of having control of my body back, even for just a moment, before my overactive mind gets in the way again. In...out.
I don't sing much anymore. It was something I did almost daily for such a long time, and now it's a rare thing if I even do a snatch of a tune for my children. Breathing, really breathing, has gone the way of singing as well. I go weeks, months at a time, barreling along through life, trying to meet all the demands of work/home/family, and I forget to breathe. It catches me by surprise when things slow down and I take a deep breath. It's almost as if just the act of breathing takes away the heavy blanket of dread weighing on my mind, and the small spark of life hidden in the corner, smothered by worry, catches the air and bursts up into flame.
I decided to take advantage of our youngest's naptime and the unseasonable weather today and took a walk. The air was nippy, but the sun felt warm, and the chance to stretch my legs was a pleasure after long days spent behind a desk. I had the streets mostly to myself, since the weather had cooled enough to drive most walkers back indoors, and I tried to cover as much ground as possible before the storm clouds lingering overhead decided to let loose. I was well down the tree-lined path to the local cemetery when the wind kicked up, gusting through the evergreens and pushing against me with enough force that I had to stop and lean into it to avoid being shoved sideways. It caught me by surprise, and the force of it made me inhale. Fresh, cold, pure air, rippling in and around me, forcing me to breathe, and breathe again. The wind died down and I continued on, but at a much slower pace this time, and I made sure to really, deeply breathe as I went.
The world's problems will not be solved overnight. Many of us continue to struggle. We feel alone, or ill-used, trampled by opinion or policy or just plain bad luck. All of us, though, are still able to breathe. Please - take that moment, take a breath, and know that there's another flawed human being out there who is breathing with you, feeling the earth slow down just for a moment, and wishing you all the best things.