Someone once pointed out to me that when I’m stressed I hold my breath. It was one of those moments when you realize that your keen sense of self-awareness needs a good dusting off. I was told to slow down and “just breathe”. Just. Breathe. Just like that.
Have you ever noticed though, that when you hold your breath you can’t feel things as acutely? Isn’t this why we do it? Isn’t this why it’s an innate response to pain and we have to rewire our brains to focus on just “breathing”?
It hurts to breathe sometimes. But I tried. Tried to control it. Tried to control anything. I’ve tried to remember this breathing thing; through labor, through belt testing, through life altering decisions, through unspeakable heartbreak, through court proceedings, through divorce.
But I couldn’t catch my breath.
I spent the long weekend in mid-October in Colorado at my brother Jeremy’s house with his wife Jen. They are in love. They bicker. They get irritated over the little things but when it’s 11PM and we’re on the couch watching the playoffs they are sort of folded comfortably into one another with a hand on a thigh or a cheek on a shoulder. They are in love.
When I was there we hiked, went to the most adorable cafes, went to our older brother’s house for a backyard BBQ, my nephew’s Little League game, took peaceful naps and cooked incredible food together. Yet, every night I sat outside at the fire table with my brother having cocktails as he pointed out the scales, melodies, tempos and extraordinary harmonies as we listened to artists like Andrew Bird, Brandi Carlile and Frightened Rabbit. With a degree in music, and a (one time) New England bar scene, traveling musical legend; I hold his opinions with high regard. He taught me how to play the piano when I was little and the one song that I know on the guitar before he moved away (Blackbird for anyone who cares). He introduced me to bootleg mixed tapes of Dave Matthews, Radiohead, Alanis Morissette and Ani Difranco years before any household had ever heard of those names. But we sat, we drank, we sang, but mostly we listened.
Despite the elevation and cool thinness of the air, it was the first time in ten months that I had been able to take a breath. And it wasn’t because I was instructed to. I just could.
“Will I remember to breathe, no I never will” -Andrew bird
Thank you, endlessly Jeremy & Jen.