V is for visceral
At thirteen years old, I was stopped by my own breath. To see it leave my lips and spread forward into the air was fascinating to me. I tuned out the winter war and stood still by the silo, filling my lungs with cold air and watching it twirl outward, suspended in front of the frozen cornfield just beyond our snow fort. A wad of snow and ice whistled past my head…Scrunching my lips together, I snorted air out of my nose, feeling the warmth smooth down my chin and seep between the folds of my scarf. Shaping my mouth into a rounded tunnel, I pushed more air out, trying to manipulate the shape and direction of my breath. I moved my head from side to side in quick motions, watching the stream stop in tiny clouds in front of me. Then, I waved my face around in circles, watching the waves slide and shift and…”Alexis, what are you even doing? The boys stole our snowballs! We need more ammo!” Right…
A few people have asked me about how my New Year’s resolutions are coming along. Well, I have yet to floss, this is my second blog entry and this morning is the first time I have made my bed all year. But I sure do like this new year so far. Somehow, by what has to be some miracle from heaven, I have been able to continue in my reading along with the Book of Common Prayer and learning about the Christian liturgical calendar and seasons. And I have been immensely more intentional with my studying, meditating praying.
Thinking about what’s inside me and watching it move outside and away from my body, the intensity of reflection and action–it’s thrilling to me. I revel in introspection and the motivation that accompanies it. I can entertain all of the new year hooplah bandwagon stuff because of this. If nothing else to you, it gives me more of an excuse to retreat into my own world and think and think and overthink and dream and plan and conjure up ideas and then I actually get to talk about it because everyone else is doing it (kind of).
One night during winter break in Chicago, as I was running errands on bicycle, I stopped at a red light and decided not to jump ahead of traffic, but take a breather instead.
I slouched for a second and rolled my head around to loosen my neck and let out a deep sigh. My breathe rolled in front of me, in an almost-startling billow. I watched it leave my body and spread toward the traffic lights, suspended in red and yellow, before disappearing. My stomach expanded as I filled my diaphragm with chilly air and…Green light, Alexis.
I kept thinking as I peddled up the incline on Roosevelt. What is inside of me? What is lurking? What is waiting? What is stirring? What it sleeping? What is lovely? What is evil? Whatever it is, none of it was meant to remain just inside me. I want to see it spread outward and either dissipate–defeated at the break of light–or twirl into thoughts and dreams of genuine Love and selfless creativity. Still trying to decide on thoughtful New Year’s resolutions at that point, I decided to just chill and pray and let go of my action 2011 action plan and let the Holy Spirit, ruach, the eternal breath within me, show me where to inhale and exhale.
The last few weeks have been especially redemptive for me. My breathing has been labored or hesitant at some points. At others it has been deep and reviving. My new year so far has caused me to just stop–amidst the battles, amidst the traffic–and just watch the breath that God Himself sighed into me. And I am adoring it.
happy V day.