• Aram Mitchell

we have to breathe to live

I open the window to a wash of scents from the blooms scattered around my neighborhood. After a night of breathing the indoor air of my bedroom, the perfume in that floral punch is overwhelming. Like the way that the girls would spritz the notes they passed to the ones they had a crush on back in high school. Back when we used paper to pass our notes. Back when we carried our sentiments on tangible stuff that could be burned.

Spirit, in the original languages of the sacred texts of my tradition, connotes wind and, also, breath. That’s what happens when I open the window first thing in the morning. All three, almost all at once, a puff of wind becomes a breath that buoys my spirit.

At night I shut the window and I shift my attention toward sleep.

And everyday I take for granted almost every breath I take from the moment I open the window to when I shut it for the night. And every night I take for granted every breath my body breathes while my spirit wanders in dream.

It should be this: I open the window and a puff of wind becomes a breath that burdens and buoys my spirit. It should be both.

We have to breathe to live. That seems so obvious. But somehow it’s not so obvious. So those of us who can breathe have to give our breath to the insistent claim: We have to breathe to live. All of us have to be allowed to breathe for any of us to really live.

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