It has been over a year since I’ve written anything meaningful (to me, at least). Life was full of too much stuff, a lot of it frustrating, burdensome, impatient stuff. There wasn’t room for me to think or dream or breathe.
But we’ve got to breathe. It’s so important that God built these bodies of ours to make the very act of breathing automatic. To stop the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation takes real effort and is wholly unsustainable, as our bodies will ultimately override our stubbornness. So why do I find myself – driving to work, lying in bed, making dinner – holding my breath? (Hmmm. That sounds like fodder for prayer, or therapy. Or both.)
Today I am feeling my breath again. How good it feels to fill up my lungs, the relief I feel in my shoulders when I exhale. Breathing gives me room to think and dream again. I’m so ready for it. My mind is racing with possibilities.
Breathing also, quite literally, gives us a voice. The air that rushes out of our lungs allows us to engage our vocal cords, vibrating like the string on a violin, to produce our voice: a unique frequency and resonance that is ours alone. But you can’t have a voice when you hold your breath, as the very act itself locks your vocal cords together, sealing off the airway and tightly holding back the air that urgently wants to escape – and the words, too.
I’ve spent the better part of my life being trained in the mechanics of breathing. Whether it was learning to swim, singing in college, examining the voice in graduate school, helping the voiceless at work, or studying the practice of meditation, the constant thread has always been the simple act of breathing. Inhaling and exhaling, again and again and again.
It’s feeling pretty weak but I think I’ve found my voice again. And wouldn't you know, all I needed was a little more room to breathe.