Blue in the Face

Do you ever forget to inhale?

I have a bad habit of exhaling for extremely long periods. I tend to run, too, toward the end, when I am basically on borrowed oxygen.

I have no idea how many times I will need to relearn this lesson. Apparently, I haven’t learned it yet. We all need to figuratively inhale so that we have something to then figuratively exhale. What I mean by this is that if I'm pouring out love, for example, I need to allow myself to receive love. If I'm pouring out creativity, I need to stop to be the recipient of some kind of inspired thought. The whole of creation breathes and cycles, but I seem to think I can just give and give and give and hold the same note on the same breath for 100 years. It’s not going to work. It isn’t working.

What you don’t know is I’ve tried to write this about four times already, on three different topics, that then fall short, I get frustrated with, and then scrap. “What is my problem?!” I angrily ask myself. Sometimes I even look at myself in the mirror and ask this with a mean expression. I’m trying to bully myself into…creativity and flow? I do this when I’m exhausted. I usually cry afterward, too. I answer myself, “I’m exhausted. How can I do this when I have no energy to give?” I wish I had this, I wish I had that, if only that person would help, or this situation were resolved, then- then- then-.

It isn’t entirely true, though. I don’t know where this line of thinking comes from, but I do know it’s prevalent in society. And, though I do not recommend bullying anyone, including yourself, my nature of breaking down actually reveals the truth of the matter. I said it already: I’m exhausted. What’s more is, I don’t need anything I don’t already have. Nature reveals the remedy just as easily.

When people walk, run, climb, or just plain move on one breath, what happens? The energy runs out. God spent six days creating the universe, moving all that energy around, exhaling life into everything. And on the Seventh day…Hashem rested. One might even say, He inhaled.

Pause to think about this for a second. We do so much on an exhale, literally. Acting, saying, giving— they’re all an outpouring. And there is a way to keep the cycle going, to continue the flow of breath— we inhale. We don’t even have to fully stop, but we do need to pause the outward act in order to open ourselves to an inward act. The heart itself knows this; it closes an inflow valve in order to pressurize the outward flow, then closes the outflow valve in order to receive the inflow of blood. How many examples can I come up with for this metaphor? Quite literally a universe-full. It’s echoed everywhere and yet…

I have a bad habit of exhaling for extremely long periods. I tend to run, too, toward the end when I am basically on borrowed oxygen. I have no idea how many times I will need to relearn this lesson.

So, let’s all take a deep breath.

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