“Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” Mary Oliver
I like to imagine that the breath goes everywhere in my body, not just into my lungs, and—hey, it’s just occurred to me—it does!! I know this because I used to teach a very pared down simplified science lesson on the body to my special ed students. So, yes, in fact, the breath does go everywhere because we draw it in and through some miraculous process the oxygen soaks into our blood and the blood rushes up to our brains and our ear canals and our eye lids and down to the spaces between our toes. The oxygen bathes every organ in our skull, chest, and belly. The breath, the blood, the air, the water, the sunlight, the salty ocean: within us and without us. Lungs and heart, brain and intestines. Imagination and reason. We are breathing, breathing, breathing.
Can I choose to “breathe just a little?” Is that what I’m doing? Do I breathe just a little, and call it a life? Birds call and birds are little, as little as hummingbirds. But hummingbirds are fierce, deceptively fierce and surprisingly loud! They suck the sweet nectar from every blossom. They see the wild florescent color of hibiscus and peony and they dive in head first. Is this the life I want? Is this the life the universe is propelling me toward? Even when I think I can be small, even when I think I can survive on a tiny portion, even when I think I can pretend to be frugal and unselfish, but when I’m really being self-righteous and self-pitying, the universe is taking that shallow breath and spreading it all over me, the universe is taking that little breath and telling me I’m worth it. The universe is thrusting my body into the air and the light and the water and the sand and saying, “Breathe deep! This is what you were made to do. Take and eat: this is for you.”