Priorities, rest and breathing

This morning I lay in bed, curled up in a ball, just exactly warm enough and aware of the chill in the air outside my little cocoon. I lay there under the weight of several layers of blanket thinking about life in all its variety; about the dear friends of mine who’ve just welcomed their first child, about the three different friends I have who are soon to move interstate (to Melbourne—hurrah!) or overseas, about the friends I know who are struggling with overwork or relationship woes. And then I thought about my own life, with all its recent changes and challenges and sadnesses and joys. I thought about how life is always in a state of flux—it’s just that we seem to notice it more at some times than others. And about how life never seems to turn out how anyone thought it would, but how much richer than imagination, good or bad, reality is, if we let it be.

And then I thought again about my friends’ little baby, who is just a week old, partly because I’ve already been clucky for years and thinking about babies is something I don’t seem to be able to help doing, and partly because I was amazed to think that he still has all of this ahead of him. This life.

I remember the moment when I was a child that I realised each of the billions of people in the world had their own life events unfolding around them and an inner life trying to make sense of that. I remember not being quite sure what to do with that realisation.

In the last few weeks, for an essay I’m writing, I’ve been learning more about the anatomy, physiology and psychology of breathing. The breath is altered by all sorts of things, and in turn that altered breath changes our biochemistry. Life changes the way we breathe, and breathing changes the way we approach life. To think about something as intimate and small as a person’s alveoli, and how their life might impact on the way that gases are exchanged there, and then to imagine those tiny but significant relationships inside the lungs of billions of people is… well, incredible in exactly the same way as becoming aware as a child of vastness of humanity.

I found myself wondering this morning about the breathing of each of the friends I was thinking about, and of that new little baby. All those lungs and all their different circumstances. The enormity of it overwhelms and fascinates me.

On a day where I have next to no plans, I thought, ‘Perhaps I can just lay here all day, mulling over the wonders of life’. But the promise of a cup of tea dragged me out from under the covers and into the sunshiny winter day. And, for once, instead of rushing into my to do list (I know I said I had no plans, but, y’know, I’ve got things I want to do), I’ve let myself amble and ponder. It’s amazing how rest can shift your priorities.

Cat with good priorities

(Because there aren’t already enough cat pictures on the interwebs, here’s a picture of my housemate’s cat enjoying the winter sun. Now there’s an animal with its priorities in good order.)

6 thoughts on “Priorities, rest and breathing

  1. Aaaaaa seeing I’m one of the friends soon to be in Melbs, I can’t wait to see you and drink tea and enjoy the sunshine like LP. Beautiful post Soph, despite all these ups and downs we are still here and alive and breathing.

  2. It’s always lovely to read pondering words about rest; it doesn’t surprise me when I think of the insane culture we’re in that we feel pressured to not look after ourselves.

    I am reading your words curled up in a ball in bed, not wishing to get out but being lured by a cup of tea also.

    • Totally agree about the busy culture. I realised yesterday that I almost always think, ‘I can rest when I’ve got this, this and this done’. And the list, of course, is always too long and I never quite get to the rest bit!

      P’raps you could bring the tea back to bed 🙂

      • Hehe. Not today, unfortunately. I need to step out in that gorgeous sunshine and drive across town to eat lunch. Which will be totally great once I haul my arse out of the house 😛

        Speaking of rest, I have had chronic fatigue syndrome for 14 years, and within that time my adrenal fatigue has worsened and got better. In my most recent period of it worsening so that I just simply had no choice about how guilty I felt for not doing things, that I just simply couldn’t do them, I climbed back into bed and felt this wonderful sort of freedom. ‘Cause it was out of my hands, and I HAD to rest. And it made me realised how often I want to rest but I feel like I’m not allowed to, or something. Weird.

      • I can totally relate to that feeling like you’re not allowed to rest. It’s a really tricky one. It’s such a common feeling, I gather. And I reckon sometimes it takes illness (major or minor—though the message is obviously stronger if the illness is major) to get that freedom from guilt. Very weird.

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