This reflection comes from a conversation with a gifted photographer I met. His story helped confirm for me that we live a life in every breath. In truth, each heart-breath is an atom of life-force being born one more time. We as human beings have the incredible burden of sensitivity but the incomparable reward of being awakened over and over again.
At a gathering in San Francisco, I met Marco, a careful and patient photographer from Santa Clara. When asked what surprised him during the last year, his voice began to quiver. He'd witnessed two breaths that had changed his life. His daughter's first breath. Then his mother's last breath. As his daughter inhaled the world, it seemed to awaken her soul on Earth. As his mother exhaled her years, it seemed to free her soul of the world. These two breaths jarred Marco to live more openly and honestly. He took these two breaths into his own daily breathing and quickly saw their common presence in everyone's breathing. Is it possible that with each inhalation, we take in the world and awaken our soul? And with each exhalation, do we free ourselves of the world, which inevitably entangles us? Is this how we fill up and empty a hundred times a day, always seeking the gift of the two breaths? Perhaps this is the work of being.
Excerpt from Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, just published from Simon & Schuster Oct. 9, 2012.
A Question to Walk With: What is your experience of the first breath and the last breath? Where do they live in you?
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