importance of breathing

part of an essay in progress about how we view our lives….I’m thinking about how air is so easy to see through and move through that we are always looking ahead toward our goals. But water– water is immersive experience, and if we tried to swim through life, maybe we could be more present in the moments around us. 

i.

the importance of breathing is that it’s molecular.

Our bodies are porous and admit toxins of all colors, but breathing is what we choose to bring in. Like water, we imbibe air to sustain and purify our every inch. Think about a square inch of your body: how much blood, how much oxygen, how much nitrogen, how much water? We are but fragile things. Delicate ratios.

In air, breathing is plentiful, easy, mindless. In water, it becomes a primary concern. Like in winter, but louder, we see our breath, we hold it like a petal we are slowly crushing, we struggle upward for it.

In water, breathing is an intensely sought break from intensity. It is a moment of self-care more intimate than any other. It is the only life we can find.

 

ii.

the importance of breathing

is that it fills and fullfills, sustains, tames: we take deep breaths to calm ourselves. It lets us pause the moment and imbibe time. Yet we breathe while every other moment is ocurring, so it’s not a forced, separated break. We can allow time to move in a way we choose (for once) by breathing low and long, devoting attention to what the body usually does without us asking. A breath is a set of parentheses around time, ours to employ at will and as needed.

 

iii.

the importance of breathing is that it’s instinctual. I can hear the wail of a newly loosed infant, emergent from the womb in which it swam, complacent, warm, stunned by silence. Suddenly it ruptures into air. Breath is everywhere, cold, to be grabbed, sucked in eagerly.

And once we stop breathing, we’re gone. First to last breath. Desperate clutching at life to gentle loosening of hands. Last breaths like melodies, like white flags, like sinking deeper into water and no longer looking at the surface. When we stop breathing, we curl into ourselves, fetal and petaled into bloomy curls. Then we sink.

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