Breath

A bright, breezy midsummer’s day, the humidity slowly ascending, bringing the possibility of increasingly illusive rain tomorrow. The breeze whips the foliage, casting cinematic shadows through the shallow swale that runs behind our home.

I’ve the window by my desk open and that same breeze breathes air into the room, warmth on the exhale and cool on the inhale. In the wildflower garden white and yellow dominate; every now and then the wind parts the dense fore-growth, revealing a swatch of brilliant red.

I’m listening to a concert of new, mostly electronic, music. As I do so, I catch snippets of sound I can imagine recreating; this experience is not unlike those moments when words suddenly make sense as one learns a new language. The music is multi-timbral and densely layered, not unlike the view from my window.

When my concentration breaks I become aware that my hands and head ache and mild nausea comes and goes in waves, as does fatigue. The thermometer reads 81F, well above the 72F comfort threshold for those of us with post-polio heat intolerance.

It is anyone’s guess as to which symptoms are post-polio and which are post-Covid; viruses leave behind such a wide array of often bazaar effects. Virologists have been considering the possibility that these symptoms may arise from remnant RNA which acts like a pale version of the full virus, leaving the infected body in a sort of limbo.

At the store this morning I was the only one wearing a mask. Perhaps this reflects Covid fatigue, or perhaps the effects of the constant media messaging that we should all get back to life as usual, even as we learn that up to forty percent of Covid survivors will have long term, often disabling, effects from the virus, that vaccines offer scant protection against long Covid, and that the more infections a person experiences the more persistent and severe long Covid is likely to be.

The idea we might as well just adapt to Covid makes about as much sense to me as demanding we adapt to climate change, mass extinction, and ecosystem collapse rather than addressing the problem. Perhaps those who shape these messages know it is more difficult to reject the offered soma than we imagine?

The breeze has quietened for the moment and the sun traveled for enough west to cast the swale in late day shade. There is just a hint of ocean on the breeze; is it low tide? I notice my breathing has become asthma labored, and am reminded that the tides are also a kind of breath, cycles of exchange that are essential to life in the tide zone, the ocean, and the planet.

I wonder: if we breathe with the world are we more awake? Are we somehow inoculated against the worst of the false messaging? Is my labored breathing simply mine, or is it also the state of the Earth? I wonder.

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