The fact that we get up each day and breathe in and out, generally without difficulty, is one of the best and worst things ever.
I remember having the wind kicked out of me in elementary school. The perp, a rude child named Darrell, had a crush of sorts on yours truly — the usual kind of crush that a seven year old has: rocks are given as gestures of affection, clovers are picked and strewn together and lunches are shared. This crush, however, also came with physical assaults. I was not a fan.
One day while I was sitting on the ground in the schoolyard, a firm, solid kick — sole flush with back — sent me face-first into the dirt. I couldn’t speak, and barely managed to cry. The next day, I received a shiny pebble as a peace offering.
Having the wind kicked out of you isn’t ideal. It’s dangerous and damaging. But when we don’t struggle for air, when the expected happens as planned, we can get a little complacent. Through the trials we learn boundaries; we learn what we’ll fight for.
On the playground, I turned vigilant from that day forward, and I grew eyes on the back of my head. I felt like I knew where that kid was before he had any idea where I was playing, and I eventually had others keeping an eye out, too. I had a posse. And I was seven.
When we struggle for air, we realize how good we had it. When we’re all fine and dandy, our cherished breath is assumed. It’s expected. In theory, it should push us to get up, go out, see what we can see, find what we’ve been missing, experience what we didn’t know until we explored and protect the things that are most important to our existence — including breath itself.
For air and breath — both literal and figurative, for resolve and fight, for will and might, I am thankful.