For decades of My Life, a couple of species of trees have been attempting to kill me. Slowly, insidiously with their annual mating dance — they literally take my breath away from me.
Each year is a roll of the dice. Will the pollen season begin early or late? Will there be enough rain to clear the air? Will I manage to slide by or will I have to sit out it out — incapacitated on my couch?
Last spring I was completely symptom-free. Perhaps The Universe in Her-Great-Good-Kindness decided facing a pandemic and a lockdown was enough physical and emotional baggage for me to handle. Or perhaps going into lockdown was the blessing in disguise. Either way — I had no issues with the asthma, the pollen, or the mating dance of trees.
This year has been a bit more problematic — but again — still better than years past. I have had to take the necessary medications for an exacerbation, however, I have remained relatively functional throughout. A testament, no doubt, to the fact that I am retired and able to simply stop and rest as needed. There is no pressure to perform or to return to the stress of a work-a-day world. There are no annoyed colleagues, irritated bosses, or reams of FMLA forms to be filed.
I can just Be.
Starting this week in North Carolina the spring rains came. And with them, clean, crisp, damp air. I was able to get back outside for short walks around raindrops and through the morning mist.
As I walked, yesterday and a bit farther today — I was present. With the feel of the air, the sounds of the birds, the earth beneath my feet. I walked — very slowly — very deliberately through my neighborhood and greenway. My face was masked — not to protect me from a killer virus — but from pollen — the very essence of Life invisibly floating all around me.
The trees — maple and juniper — are the worst offenders in these parts. Trees I am well acquainted with from my childhood in northeast Pennsylvania. All. The. Trees which triggered the ambitious and abnormal immune response that resulted in the development of my asthma at age seventeen.
But today as I walked — I could feel myself letting go. I was letting go of my breath. I was letting go of my story. I was letting go of my grief. All. The. Grief. And with each step — I breathed. Or rather — my breath breathed me.
I focused on each one. Each blessed one as it came. In/Out. In/Out. In perfect cadence with my steps. Each one coming easier. I paused now and then to ground myself to The Earth or to gaze up into the gray of The Sky. I watched a pair of turtles swim in their pond. I listened to the mating calls of All. The. Birds. around me. I felt the light rain caress my face. As my breath breathed me.
I felt the physical release as my intercostal muscles relaxed into each exhalation. My diaphragm dropped. My airway cooled. My heart rate slowed. Tension drained away from me with each breath. As my breath breathed me.
Most Humans here are lamenting the rainy weather. They long for long, sunny days in the seventies. But not me. Not this time of year. It is with gratitude deep in my heart, I feel my breath breathe me back to health. Back to Life. Back to Joy.