A woman at my work recently told me her therapist had told her that quitting smoking was so difficult, because smoking is the one time during the day you take conscious, deep breaths.
Breathing is important. Intentional breathing is healing. Have you ever finished a yoga class and gotten into Savasana and started crying? I do all the time; it’s so embarrassing. My buddy told me he cries in Savasana sometimes too and thinks it has something to do with all that intentional breath work you do in yoga.
I have felt like some kind of feral animal desperately trying to adapt to life indoors. It is confining, controlling, and definitely the right move regarding Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean I’ve loved it.
For the last two years, I lived out of a Subaru impreza or my buddy’s broken-down-trailer in his backyard. It was the Poor Kid’s #vanlife, the Everyman’s bohemian fantasy. I drove to where I wanted to sleep, put up my reflectix, and slept, and I didn’t pay rent. I worked at a gear shop in Central Oregon and rock climbed almost every day, locally, and in Wyoming, in Washington, in California and Nevada. I cooked my meals with my friends, slept beside them in our vehicles, awoke with them and coffee and played outdoors with them between shifts. I fell in love over and over again; every sunset, every juniper-scented sunrise, every time I watched my dog play in rivers and every time I saw my friends’ eyes light up about a song or a route or a book they were excited about. It was dreamlike sometimes. The “Stay at home” order made no sense to me; I was home in so many places, and none of them were indoors. Shelter in place? How? My “home” was on wheels. No contact with anyone but family? But the transients I love made a family out of one another.
I know it’s melodramatic and spoiled and self-absorbed to be this broken up over a little pandemic, and so many people have it way worse, but this has been a gut-wrenching adjustment for me. I just want to be honest.
Lately I am lying in bed a lot and burning lots of incense. I am studying my grief and walking my dog, and eagerly awaiting every zoom call with friends and family. I never knew how desperately I needed connection until now. My anxiety and fear of the future and hopelessness is off the charts lately. I’m working on it.
When I first imagined keeping a blog this year, I was filled with hope for my guiding work and writing opportunities. I was going to share the secrets of how to live in a car (spoiler; you just start doing it) and I was going to share funny snippets of all my friends and the antics we get ourselves into. It’s been hard to muster the inspiration to fill a website with anything lately, now that all of that seems gone.
But I’m lying here in bed now, watching the morning sunlight dance across my dog’s pretty coat, listening to Band of Horses and remembering that all things are temporary. All joys, all pain, all sickness and health; it’s all temporary. This too shall pass. Nothing is gone, it’s just changed, and maybe I needed a change. Maybe you did too. Maybe the emotional stagnation I’ve bemoaned for years just needed a swift punch in the gut. You’ve gotta get the wind knocked out of you sometimes to remember just to breathe.
And being heartbroken just means you really, truly, loved.
I quit smoking (a-fucking-gain) seven days ago, and in the last week when I crave a cigarette so desperately I can feel it like a burning in my chest and a churning in the pit of my stomach, I take a buncha deep breaths and try to note all the pretty things around me. I do that to stave off the four-am panic attacks too.
I’m lying in bed now just breathing, honoring the past with my sentiment and romanticism, and reminding myself that everything’s different now and that’s ok.
For now, just breathe.