A chill, dark day. Just enough rain has fallen to dampen the ground. The drought continues. There is some leaf change here on the peninsula. Further inland the swamp maple leaves have flamed red and fallen.

Jennie has begun feeding the birds. It may be a tad early but they have been requesting food for a couple of weeks, Perhaps the drought has reduced the forage available to them.

Our garden fountain is much visited. Turkeys, doves, squirrels, and a variety of song birds come routinely, and we believe fox and deer come when we are not attentive. The land is parched so running water is much needed and sought after.

The fountain and feeders are generally well shared, although competition does break out every now and then. When the larger birds drive the others away, the vanquished hold back and wait for the the victors to leave. At the feeder, as in much of life, victory is illusory.

In the human realm, there is the ever present threat that hard won civil rights will be reversed, along with health and welfare gains, and environmental safeguards. The ebb and flow of historical conflict seems intensified in our highly contested and polarized age, and basic empathy too often lacking. The term “victory” is utilized by all sides and heralded as other than transient.

We humans get caught up in our beliefs and ideologies, concepts that are often more real than our visceral, lived experiences. Our brains seem almost hard wired to the belief, held even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that we are actually separate individuals and groups.

Yet, we are each an astoundingly complex ecosystem embedded in ever larger ecosystems. Every breath we take is an inhalation of innumerable smaller organisms, trace elements from distant long dead stars, and oxygen excreted by plants. Each breath embeds us deeper in our share humanity, and in the ecosystems we inhabit, undermining the myth of separation, and assuring the fate of others will be our own.

Each breath connects us to all life, and every geological process on this small, fragile planet. If we are able to put aide our prejudices and hierarchies we may ride our breaths to an awakening to the mystery of being alive, of sharing life with all other organisms. We might be more empathic and nurturing, might remember that caring for others is ultimately caring for ourselves.

For just a moment, let’s just breathe.

7 thoughts on “Breath

  1. What you write is so true and so beautiful!
    Unfortunately, when I observe the behavior of some humans, I have the impression that they have absolutely no such awareness, that they are convinced that everything belongs to them, including the air they breathe. They are never aware of the quality of the air we breathe, the air we share.
    All humans are different, unequal; too bad…
    Life could be so much more beautiful.
    Maybe if many of us are aware of this breathing, as a kind of prayer, a tribute, this action will become beneficial for our planet, our world!

  2. Wonderful, wonderful post. I especially liked “At the feeder, as in much of life, victory is illusory.” I have often wondered just how different are the lives of those on the far right. Do they get up in the morning, the same as I do? Brush their teeth? Have breakfast? Go to work? Care about their families? Do yard work? Have supper? Go to bed? I bet the answer is yes, just as it for me.

    1. Laurie, These seem like such important questions. I keep trying to remain empathic but the media make empathy so difficult. My experience is the right is very much like the left but with different values and worldviews. In the end, finding common ground seems so difficult, even though the commonality is larger than the differences.

  3. Your conversation here is so very relevant, and Laurie’s comments bring it back to a simple point that we really are all just trying to go about our lives but have different political opinions. Back a few years, having different political opinions was not the end of families or friendships nor did it lead to violence. Today, we seem to not have enough tolerance to listen and discuss. As I drive around and see all the political signs, I long for that one yard that has signs from both parties because I missed the book that said you had to be either red or blue and not invested enough to decide who are the best applicants for the job. Stay well.

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