Breathing is very important; you cannot leave home without it! Death happens when you breath out, then don’t breath in afterwards. Simple and powerful.
Our lungs are amazing; like our hearts, they never stop working, never rest our whole lives. Our breathing changes when we need it to. It deepens, it speeds up, it slows down. It requires no conscious intervention on our part. Our breathing responds in real time to events and our thoughts about the events around us. Each breath delivers oxygen to every cell of our bodies. Marvellous! A fact I learned as a child is that if you were to lay out your lungs flat on the ground, they would cover the same area as a tennis court. And to think our lungs are really evolved gills!
As I sit on our porch in the morning, the air cool and moist, there is a pleasure, a deliciousness, to breathing, a sense of openness, of refreshing natural goodness and the hint of the promise of a warm day. I look out across the valley and see the lush dark green blanket of the oak forest covering the hills opposite.
The forest is also my lungs, the external part of my lungs. I live in symbiosis with the forest. The trees provide me with the oxygen I need to live and I provide the trees with the carbon dioxide they need to live. Without the forest to clean and transform my exhalation there would be no point in me having lungs. Without the forest there cannot be lungs.
But the trees of the forest cannot exist without the sky, without the clouds, without the rain, the sun, so every breath contains the sky, the clouds, the rain and sunshine.
The trees provide shade and food to bees, to insects and animals which fertilize and pollinate and so the trees grow. All of these things – the sky, the sun, the clouds, the rain, the animals – all of these are contained in each breath. Without any of these things lungs would not work or even exist.
It is a reminder every day of the interconnectedness of all things. I do not exist in isolation; even if I wanted to I cannot exist in isolation! We are not separate nor do we have dominion over all of this. The earth, the sky, the clouds, the rain, the earth, the trees, the animals, the insects, I am part of these things and they are part of me. The earth, sky and the rest do not belong to me. I belong to them. The connection is clear and easy to see once we awaken, but we are easily distracted by more “important” things and we easily forget. I ask is there anything more important?
Nothing can exist if everything else doesn’t exist. We live in a state of inter-being, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. If we acknowledge and live in the reality of inter-being then we will act with greater wisdom.
If we continue to ignore or deny this reality then our future, our survival is doubtful.
Live in the reality of inter-being, share the reality inter-being. How much greater care we will take of our home, of our little “blue spaceship”, our earth as is hurtles through the cosmos.
The poet William Blake wrote it in these lines:
To see the world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.