Learning to Breathe Overwater

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

What is the easiest thing in the world?

One could argue it's breathing.  A reaction so easy that if you forget about it, you body goes ahead and does it anyway.  Oh sure, you can control it.  In out in out in out in out.  A master of your breathtany.  Worse case scenario, you hyperventilate and get the buzz other people are abusing whipped cream bottles to partake in. 

And yet, for those of us with anxiety, sometimes breathing comes so damn hard.  

It's like a mini-insomnia.  Minsomnia.  Cause sleeping's so darn easy too.   But the second you start thinking about it, perseverating about about.  All of a sudden that cuddly house pet of a nightly routine is off and running like a feral cat.  Never to be caught again.  

It's like that, except with breathing.  

And I realize that this example is a vast oversimplification of a prolonged agony consisting of multiple independent realizations that I, lo and behold, am not breathing.  As in, not talking breaths.  So, naturally, I quickly resolve this respiratory clog by exhaling, but simultaneously the idea of "breathing" is brought to the forefront of my mind.  This rumination causes a series of purposeful, controlled breaths.   Following that, there are a few touch and go minutes of trying to forget about the mechanics of breathing, only to once again realize that I'm not breathing.  

Not talking breaths. 

In those pauses between cycles, of course, I additionally get to rest on the laurels of failing at an autonomic response.  So I try to distract myself.  Distractdistractdistractdistract . . . 

But eventually it always come back to my eyes on the page, and the clacking of happy finger-pads doesn't come without the clicking backbeat of my breath.  

I'm holding it again.  Crap.  Purposeful breath in.  Purposeful breath out.  

Eventually, when breathing begins to become a metaphor for breathing, I start to worry that maybe i am hyperventilating.  Maybe the buzz in my head is from a lack of oxygen but it tastes just like my tenuous mortality.  Breath in.  Breath in god damn it.  Keep breathing in.  

And now I'm inhaling the entirety of my existence.  I'm holding in all the hope and love and dreams for my future.  They're all mingling around in my lungs with this morning' s eye appointment and the touch football games we played during middle school recess.  I'm gulping in more air. The world's contents sucked between my teeth like a 49er panning for gold -- except in this case, everything is gold and my mouth is parched with the poverty of my inevitable mortality.  And my belly is growing from all this holding and taking, and gathering, and consuming and keeping safe. Keeping safe inside me.

But then I realize that I'm not breathing.  Not taking breaths.  

And in my waking dreams this is as far as I can go.   But when I'm asleep, I can exhale . . . 

My jaw has to unhinge for an exhalation as massive as throwing up your world.  The release is a one-way tornado of air and wind and feelings.  A concussive current carrying memories past my field of focus faster than I can recall them.  My childhood house dislodges from my esophagus and my belly's distention begins to relent.  Any moment I'm sure I'll feel the release.  

Release. Release. Release me. 

Any moment of release is interrupted by the recognition that while my body is empty, I am still exhaling.  Now, unfortunately, the projectiles I'm passing are green and black and worrisome.  Now it's cancer and loneliness and old age coating the objects that force my jaws open to make their exit over and over again.  Masses of panic, confusion, and fear seem to stick to the surface of my tongue.  And it continues like this until I'm past hollow and almost inside-out. 

Empty.  Like a bottle that has lost its ship, on display for everyone to gaze through.  

I thought it'd feel better.  The release. The release. The release.  

I thought it'd feel better than this.  I thought letting go was key.  Was the key.  But now, it seems, it is merely another repetitious stage in this ongoing cycle of breath.

It isn't about the out or the in, but rather the balance between them.  

I hate balance.  Like perspective, it's unreliable and amorphic and it is always manages to slip through my fingers just as I've got it nailed. It's the Magic Eye 3-D Art of the emotional world.  So you can imagine how pissed i am to realize that breathing, at its core, is the mastery of the fluid yin and yang of air's motion through my body, much more so than it is about statically keeping air inside or out of my body.

For most people, everyday breathing is like shooting fish in a barrel. For me, it is like stuffing that feral cat a mentioned earlier into the ship's now-vacated glass bottle.

Like this, but much less adorable. 

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