On this, the eve of 2015, I find myself considering breath. To breathe is to take in and push out; to feed the bloodstream, to expand the chest, to exhale spent air and with it those things that poison us.
We do not think of it when it’s working. Only the quickened breath–in excitement, in fear–or the desperate ache of lungs for oxygen denied turns our thoughts to those unseen organs of respiration. I lost my breath while climbing Glacier Point in Yosemite. I caught it again when I first saw the north sea from Scotland’s Stonehaven. The glint of snow on black mountains, the wide savannah of bowing field flower, the way sunlight catches in the hazel eyes of my first and only love: these remind me that I am a creature built for breathing. So, too, do the darker moments of my life–for nothing brings our first breath so much to mind as the last breath of one we love.
The year’s end begs reflection. Reflection, for me, needs time to breathe. All the victories, all the hard-fought battles, all the missed opportunities, bitter sighs, or golden hours: I’ve gained and lost a great deal in the tumult of twelve months. I could talk about the books I published, or the one that’s coming out in February. I could bellow about the difficulties of grant writing, or the wonders of my museum position that make it worthwhile. I could tell you about friends I’ve gained, and loved ones I’ve lost–always not enough and too many, respectively. But instead, I dedicate the year’s last post to a lesson learned, and to you, reader. Take time. To breathe.
I‘ll remember this year as a difficult one, and the archives of newspapers will say the same. But as we stand on the wide shore of 2015, let us lift our hearts and expand the walls of a chest pinched and pleated. You and I are here for such a little while; let us enjoy each others company. Let’s take in more of what is good and let go more of what is hurtful. And on the good morrow, let’s keep breathing.
Thank you for joining me on the journey.