Just Remember To Breathe

May 28, 2010

The people I’ve known are beacons of light. Every one of them, a star– shining with varying intensity– in the night sky of my life; guiding me through the existential galaxy. Constellations of lovers, friends, and familiar faces; reminding me where I am going, how far I have come, and always, always, how to get home.

From the people who have left heavy footprints in my heart, to those who’ve merely brushed shoulders my aura, every one of them has made it real, made it worth it, and made me who I am. Without the electricity of other humans, I truly feel that this life would be meaningless.

I try my best to be all these things in return. It hardly feels like enough, sometimes. The compassion I have been fortunate enough to witness in my fellow humans is nothing short of inspirational. The collective spirit is bouncy, flexible, and incomprehensibly strong.

There are times that we call upon others for their frankness or their clemency. Times when we need an honest opinion, a helping hand, or just a sympathetic ear.

There have been times in my life where a hug has saved me.

There have been times when seeming strangers were actually the best friends I had.

One phrase I have given a lot of thought to is one I hear with incredibly frequency in the English language: “Just remember to breathe.”

I have given this sentiment a good deal of thought because it is so baseline simple, yet so profoundly elegant, that it really does merit at least a footnote in our mental manuscript. This advice is most often given to another person when they confide in us that their lives are becoming unmanageable, or out of their control. Be it relationship woes, stress at work, or financial difficulty, everyone gets to feeling overwhelmed on occasion.

When you break it down into just language, reminding another person to breathe is such an absurd thing to do. Breathing is one of the things we’ve been scheduled for on reflex. One of the few things humans should hardly ever have to think about. Yet, when I find myself in over my head, bogged down with negative though, that simple reminder somehow helps put things in perspective.

Just remember to breathe.

In the modern era, where a full time job is hardly enough, where we’re all are on-demand 24 hours a day, and where everyone expects the extraordinary, it truly can be difficult to lose sight of any purpose. As I always say, in reference to the legend of Sisyphus, it feels like rolling the boulder– you get to the top, and it all tumbles back down. Every time.

An inevitability.

There are points when this cycle becomes too much, too maddening. When the day-to-day has us ready to scream, cry, rip out our hair. Where the menial tasks begin to take over our lives and we are ready to just throw in the towel, call it a day, and give right the hell up.

Because if the car has a flat tire, the bank is calling again, you’ve been sick for a week, and the dog peed on the floor– what is the point of living, anyways??

Just remember to breathe.

This cliche’d pattern of sounds uttered from just another mass of rapidly replicating DNA is somehow consoling. It’s the lowest common denominator, breathing, it’s quite literally what keeps us alive.

But more than simply being a reminder to another human to continue their maintenance, it’s an expression of your desire for that person to stay alive, and in the moment. One breath at a time. The one thing we have to continue doing regularly, every day, is the one thing we hardly ever think about. An action we take entirely for granted.

Above and beyond it’s straightforward implication, “just remember to breathe” is a reminder of the connection between all living things; it is a suggestion to slow down and appreciate the ebb and flow; it is a prompt to surrender to the machine and, if only for a moment, to remain in the present, focusing on what one really needs. This reminder is a mainstay of Eastern religions and meditative thought, not for nothing.

In spite of what the news man tells me, humanity has not left me roughed-up along the side of the road after prom quite yet. The altruistic instincts, the sweet sympathies, and the constant cascade of loving energy I feel tells me that being part of the greater network is worth it. If I can provide for others even a small fraction of what they provide for me, I would consider this life a success.

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again. [[L.FrankBaum]]

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