Saturday, August 27, 2005

Pleased To Breathe Here

Sometimes I just enjoy sitting here and experience myself breathing.

Yeah, I can hear you. Must be a slow news day.

But when there's nothing getting in the way of breathing out and breathing in, as the song says, I think of the times when I was scared it would stop or when I felt I was having trouble drawing breath. Panic attacks that convinced me I was having a heart attack or that I would soon have a stroke or pass out. Anxiety that seemed to make me short of breath. Irregular heartbeats that made me gasp for air. Waking up in the middle of the night with my airway blocked. Illnesses that wouldn't allow me to breathe without coughing like a maniac.

There have been those times when I felt I was as close to madness or death as I ever wanted to be, even if these moments turned out to be false alarms. So to sit and draw a complete breath, and I don't even mean in a meditative, zen kind of way, just to do it, just to be able to do it, seems like the finest thing I could be doing at that moment, like watching a rippling stream or a beautiful blue sky. I'm in a peaceful place where nothing can hurt me.

One day it has to stop, though, which worries me. I had a long chat with a friend the other day about his kidney stone problem and we laughed at how we've turned into old ladies now, going on about our doctors and pills. And sometimes we talk about what's going to become of all the stuff we've spent our lives collecting. You don't want it scattered to the four winds after all that effort. We should chip in on a museum and put it on display. God, we spent enough years organizing it.

And now it all goes to someone else, like the house the wife and I bought from the little old lady who moved to Colorado. She'd spent the greater portion of her life in that house and here we were, moving in like we owned the joint, trampling over her memories. But that's the way of the world. We spend that first half of our lives gathering our rosebuds and the second half trying to figure out what to do with it. It takes that many years to understand that none of us really owns anything. We leave with the same stuff we brought with us. Dust to dust.

Which we know, of course. But we don't really know it. We whistle past the graveyard thinking we can sneak our stuff across the River of Death with us. But what would we do with it? Won't we be glad to get rid of it?

I generally don't like to think about the things I treasure ending up in other hands. Things that were signed to me, things that memorialize special occasions, special moments.

In the end, they're worth no more than the moment itself, I guess, which was always intangible.

I'm just enjoying the breathing. I own that. That's me.

But they're even going to ask for that back.

Who's going to get me?


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