As I hiked in the morning on my own I felt the warm breath flow over my pink lips and meet the cool Fall air. I thought about how the air in me commingled with the air outside of my body. It stirred into one and then new air filtered in and deep into my lungs. Grateful for my working lungs. Grateful for the clean, crisp air.
Later that day in the car, the more tears rolled down my face the more my breathing became shallow. I tried to take slow, deep inhales but the more I thought about it and the reason I’d been crying, the more difficult it became. He pulled over just as I pulled my knees to my chest. He gently pulled me out of the car and hugged me. He helped me breathe and made me speak aloud the thoughts and fears that set my amygdala and hypothalamus into overdrive. With his help, I calmed myself and got back into the car. This time in the driver's seat. I breathed deeply. Inhale… exhale. Mindful of the way my lungs were inflating. The numbness and tingling in my arms and chest subsided.
I drove us onward to our trailhead. We arrived and set forward on the path before us. When we had nearly reached the top, we came across a strange set of rocks within the mountainside. Two bulging round rocks with a shallow cavern between them. A set of lungs. Surely a sacred place to some people of the past. How could a site of such humble grandiosity as this not be sacred? I breathed in more gratitude at the thought.
8 miles later and near the end of our loop we rested at the overlook. The green trees were dappled with yellow and some oranges. We sat in silence. And in our silence, we heard so much. Each time the wind picked up, the brown and yellow crispy leaves directly overhead would flutter in the wind. Like flapping birds’ wings, they rustled and flit. The Earth breathed deeply. Her lungs filled. Her breath flowed out over her lips and onto the leaves surrounding. Inhale, exhale all around us. She breathes.
With gratitude, I breathe.