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.

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