When I feel unable to take a deep breath,
And these shallow hallow skips hasten,
it doesn’t catch until I compress my ribcage flush against my spine and it feels like they’re knocking against one another in what I imagine is a bony xylophone playing a low note that reverberates at the base of my throat.
It feels good for a second but only just that.
And then I take another 10 to 15 cursory breaths that slip off of each other,
hoping this restriction, this deprivation, would make the next One Big Deep Breath so much more satisfying, so much sweeter.
When I’m in that moment I think
Is anything sacred?
I get scared that maybe we’re so empowered that we’ve moved past the need for sanctity.
And the fact that I worry about this, that I need this world to legitimize having something to cling to, maybe that means I’m not empowered.
And what does it mean today for me not to be empowered? That I’m not so brave? That I have so much privilege that lets me live in this space where I don’t have to be so brave?
I wonder why sacred things seem so exclusionary, why only certain lands, certain experiences, certain people hold this dominion. And if something was everywhere could it ever be sacred, like air or dirt, but also like pop music and printed t-shirts.
I get a bit lost in these thoughts for a while and then notice that I can in fact breathe normally again, which is good news, and a relief.
And yes, I think to myself, air is very sacred. But only when you need it, or more specifically only when you’re conscious of needing it.
And then my thoughts evolve into something kinder like,
Can anything be sacred?
Can I let things be sacred to me, even when I have them already, in abundance?
Can I let go of this puritanical idea that fear of loss is a prerequisite for value?
It also implies, Can I let myself hold on to moments that I want to hold on to and not question whether it makes me weak or dumb or immature? Or even, can I allow myself to question it, but know that the answer, no matter what it is, isn’t an insult or a deeply troublesome flaw? It’s just an observation at a point in time, and the ego doesn’t need to bare the brunt of a lashing because of it. Maybe this is a type of empowerment, which is a realization that makes me feel good, confident even.
Which leads to a bolder question,
Is everything sacred?
And can I conceptualize that everything can be sacred, without turning it into a paradox? In both absolute and relative terms, that by seeing everything in this world as sacred, it doesn’t negate the concept itself, and in turn doesn’t mean that nothing is. It just means that it can all be valuable. There is inherent wealth in it all. And wow, what a calming thought that is. Maybe because I am a part of ‘everything’, and so this blanket definition of value covers me too. I breathe easy to that idea, aware now of the steady inhale and the significance of it all. I can close my eyes and take comfort in the slowness, relax a clenched jaw and let my mind hypnotically revolve around a question that’s answer is yes.