APOLOGY TO JOE
Twenty-some years ago, at a Heartland Writer’s Guide get-together, I made fun of something an intelligent acquaintance named Joe said. He was remarking how amazing a simple coincidence related to certain letters in words of the English language was. I heartlessly said: “It doesn’t take much to amuse you, does it?” Well, I am lot older, and maybe a little wiser now, and I realize that I owe Joe an apology. It is the simplest things that are the most amazing. Take, for example, breathing.
Because of a slap on your bottom by someone, it didn’t even have to be a doctor, you pulled the first breath of air into a shivering spasm of protoplasm that became your vehicle for this life. That first gasp started a process that might well continue, almost machine-like, for up to 70 years or more. You don’t even have to think about it. It just goes on, pumping life-giving air into you and allowing you to be conscious of this universe. If that’s not amazing, nothing is.
Books have been written about how amazingly fine-tuned this universe is for the thriving of conscious organic life forms. But we take it for granted, not realizing how many statistically improbable miracles are involved. It’s not hard to prove mathematically that such an amazing set of circumstances is not just very, very highly improbable, it’s impossible without intelligent design. Put simply: There is a Divine Intelligence just behind all the appearances of this universe, an infinite intelligence, playfully hiding in the murmurs of a mountain stream, smiling in the lotus and the rose. Daring you to find him/her. I’ve posted such proof. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the miracle of breath.
Think about it. Each cycle of inhalation and exhalation is a microcosm of life and death. Inhale, and the tension of life increases, exhale and the calmness of death approaches, and it approaches oh, so very closely! If the next breath is not drawn, your body will experience the spasms of death very soon. Between the first breath and the last, your physical life exists like a fragile flower, budding, and growing with great exuberance, eventually to wilt and fade away.
Contemplating such a simple thing as breath, something we take for granted every minute of every day, experiencing and analyzing it deeply, brings a realization of the miracle that life is. Become one with the exuberance of inhalation, and you will understand life; become one with the deep calm that comes with complete exhalation, and you will not fear death, because you exist with both and with neither. You are the I Am, the witness, the consciousness that experiences everything. You are a miracle.
Joe, I owe you a deep apology. It is the small things, the simple things, that really count.
Ed Close, February 6, 2018