Breadth of Breath

Breathing comes naturally. You launch from of your mother’s insides—POP!—equipped with innate survival skills, preprogrammed to do something you will do until the last day you are alive.

How peculiar (because the action is automatic) are those moments when you are aware of the ebb and flow of the air you are filtering? You can get so wrapped up in deceivingly simple act of breathing. When you are told to take a deep breath in and then let it out, you immediately become conscious of breathing. In moments like these, I stop and wonder how I’ve gotten by from the last time I consciously breathed until the next. Attention shifts before long, but breathe continues after my mind finds another temporary focus.

Writing this, I’m thinking about how I’m breathing. Reading this, you’re thinking about the way that you’re breathing. We’re multitasking. Writing, reading, breathing; now we’re aware of all three, notably the common factor of this trio. Give it some time and you’ll forget, but for the duration of time it is on your mind, you’ll feel like you’re in absolute control of every inhale and exhale. Inhale. Now exhale. Do you take fuller breaths when you’re made conscious of the process, as if you’re paranoid you might not be doing it right? Your body will return to its autopilot soon enough. The continuation—one thing that remains constant throughout our lives. Our masses, minds, and maturities all morph, but our breathing keeps on going and going, in our waking hours and in those in which our we slip under blankets of sleep.

Is there meaning in innateness? That, when it comes to our bodies’ inherent air feeding, we’re not in control of what’s keeping us alive? That is insight I do not possess. You may find answers in a such a line of questioning, but trains of thought cannot chug without an engine fueled by oxygen, so you best not hold your breath.


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