Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Red Wings

Within the cage of my ribs, the great red lungs beat. They are wings that inflate, collapse, inflate, collapse - my invisible red angel of life. Never flying free, only beating and beating, sucking oxygen into their great red wet convolutions. One adult football-sized lung has more surface area than all of my skin combined.

These wings of my mortality. These precious wings. 60.6 years x 365 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes x 15 breaths--more or less--per minute = the incredible math of lungs. Over 477 million breaths so far in my lifetime.

What did I do to deserve so much air? What miracle makes the trees and grass and algae and rain forests, those great green lungs of the earth, photosynthesize my CO2 back into O2? Are the forests as desperate for my carbon dioxide as I am for their oxygen?

I wonder what it felt like when I first breathed. I hold a tiny grandchild and wonder if she is just noticing, noticing, noticing what it feels like as her tiny lungs inflate and collapse inside her tiny ribs. Breathing.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I had an idea for an essay yesterday. I did not write it down and now it is gone. It was something about boundaries, and the word "no," and whether our universe is really real or if it may be a virtual universe.

There was something, too, about our bodies, the table, the chair I sit on, being made mostly of space, not molecules. That the volume I occupy here in the kitchen, me, is more empty than not. That billions of little space molecules zing through our bodies all the time, every day, and they don't hurt at all because they're just zinging through emptiness.

How can a brain that is more empty than not hold on to any thought at all? And speaking of brains, I read recently that our brains are laid out on a grid. Our thoughts criss-cross at 90ยบ angles. Like we were designed to be a circuit board or something…but that's weird.

But back to boundaries. A tantruming two-year-old looks tough, but really she's just beginning to figure out who she is and who she isn't. Where she starts and where she's no longer she, but now it's something else. Screaming at the top of her lungs to see how far her scream carries, to find out that she's the only one screaming. No! she stamps her foot, No! she cries, not to be difficult, but to figure out the point at which she separates from yes, the word of acquiescence, of surrender.

When you tell me No! is that your way of saying, This is who I am?

Human body made of stardust