Fighting to Breathe and Breathing to Fight

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

For our son’s second birthday a couple weeks ago, we spent the day mostly playing at home and then headed to the beach in the afternoon to enjoy some special fancy birthday doughnuts. We were only there for about an hour, but feeling the ocean air and watching the waves approach, crash, and retreat in endless succession was almost therapeutic. The day was simple. And it was lovely. And we will remember it always.

So many things in the world and in each of our lives are so complicated right now. And it’s overwhelming.

Though, of course, not all of it is bad. Almost nothing ever is.

I think we’re stretching and growing and challenging ourselves. We’ve been thrust from our comfort zones as we ironically stay home a lot more often than ever. But our hearts and minds are hopefully expanding from all we’re learning and discovering about ourselves and other people.

And yet a lot of it feels heavy, too. Some of us may be struggling financially and worrying about where to work or live. Some of us may be fearful for our own health and the health of others. Some of us may be hurting because of some of the conditions of our society that make it feel hard to breathe sometimes. Some of us may be at odds with loved ones over differing views about which of those conditions are the real problems at hand. And the list goes on.

All of these things are important. And all of these things are real. And we’re all doing our best to manage them.

When I watched the shoreline really closely, I noticed that, despite how chaotic or unrelenting the waves appear to be, even the water seems to take a brief breath within the cycle of approach, crash, retreat. There is a moment of calm as the water prepares itself to head back out for more, taking with it whatever it needs.

And for a few seconds, the sand that had been kicked up suddenly falls away, making it possible to see through the water clearly. And there are flashes of all sorts of beautiful things, like flowing seaweed or whole seashells that have been in existence for who knows how long.

It’s proof to me that there can be chaos and calm, complexity and simplicity, clarity and uncertainty, all wrapped up into one. That, in itself, seems kind of complicated. And yet it’s not at all. We instinctively understand the balance that exists in nature. And yet sometimes we deny it in ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but I, too, need to take a breath sometimes. I need to stop and pause and wait for some semblance of clarity. It’s the only way I can see the hidden gems amongst what can otherwise just seem really murky and unpleasant.

I need to sit down, feel the ground, and notice the way my son finds joy in the sensation of wet sand between his fingers or how the sound of a helicopter flying overhead can light up his whole face and make him stand at attention.

It’s moments like those that fuel me. They give me the space I need to come up for air after I’ve been knocked over by a tidal wave. They fill me up with the motivation I need to face another day. And though they may be brief, they give me all I need to continue to swim. And hope. And fight.

How about you? What simple things are giving you life these days?

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