Nearly nine years ago, when I was in Snowden, one thing I remember most vividly are the moments when I found my breath. After four hours of intense group therapy, we would break for lunch. The time it took to walk to the on-site cafeteria was brief but enough of a space to reflect, internally regroup.
I would feel tired, bruised, but my chest & my shoulders always felt weightless. You never realize how much emotion weighs until you’re forced to process it & let it go. With this new absence, breathing seemed like a novel thing, like initially discovering your heart beats or that your eyes see without you thinking about it. Breathe in, breathe out & smile at the sudden joy of the act.
In the years since, I’ve rediscovered this feeling in both odd & intentional ways. Like leaving a yoga class & feeling my throat & lungs could hold the sky. Or waking up from a restful sleep & not only being highly aware of the small details around me (a spider on the window, a car starting two driveways away, the cast of the shadow on the floor) but following each fine reaction of my senses.
I stumbled on one of these moments when I left my therapist’s office for the last time this past week. I drove home playing Avalanche. I felt as if light or energy was coming off of everything: out of the colors of the sky, off of the people leaning out of their car windows, from the trash in the road, the collapsed hay bales in the field. I took a breath to sing the last lines of the song & felt something constant & quick bloom in my diaphragm.
I opened my mouth & sang “I’m just a boat on the ocean; I’m just a ship lost at sea.” Sad words, but the force of my voice came from every part of my body. I sang the line again & felt as if my voice, my pulse, my spirit was in tune with the order of the world.