"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Plot Full

My air does catch, like a hiccup expelled long
too long
and lungs forget they have hollow spaces
which can be mindfully filled

but even when I will not....

forcefully then
there comes breath
and I scrunch my face
open mouthed in silent protest

Father, you should have let me go!

God can roll His eyes...
and does

I spent a good 30 minutes walking an old historical cemetery today. I thought of death. I thought of this poem. This was written awhile ago regarding a panic attack. If you have them, then you know this feeling of not being able to get enough air. I have considered ceasing air all together...giving it up like tobacco, or a bad hair color. It's never really a suicide thing....just a tired thing, perhaps an impatient thing. I'm often ready to be done.  I am actually feeling happy today. I can't wait to get back to that cemetery though once the weather turns appropriately gloomy :)


  1. interesting to read this...i was on the massage table today and she was doing great work on my back and i realized there was a huge space in the middle where i was not fully breathing and brought this to her attention...sometimes we need others to help us inhale and exhale as we should...

  2. Surprises exist! I live with a woman of this emotion… and I occasionally embrace it myself.

  3. Eco - I find my breath to be shallow, all the time. It's not healthy. I am prepared always for fight or flight...(thank you mother). I sure want to learn though. I sure do.

    Marty - Poor man. Ha! It ain't easy is it? Tell me, so I can tell my husband how to deal with a "woman of this emotion."

  4. I look for places like this too, for the same reason. Gloomy is a good place to be sometimes. I like the poem.

  5. I can relate to this in so many ways. Sometimes it isn't even like giving up, it's just a realization that the emptiness is who you are inside. But on good days it passes, and you can breathe, and you move forward.

    Your thoughts in this piece could have come from my own head.

  6. I understand. Mine started at twelve and I refused to take medication. At 42 my nervous systems shut down, I still don't know why I didn't die...I wish that at 12 I had started taking medicine, instead of 'braving' it into either it will make me stronger, or I will die. But that doesn't happen, you just get weaker and weaker and then you stop breathing. I don't what or the why or the who in your case I will only say, take care of it...take care of you, it's your decision, I send you all my love

  7. I practice zazen, and in the early days of my practice I was taught to be mindful of my breathing. This resulted in me - at times - forgetting how to breathe naturally. I became like the centipede that starts thinking about the mechanics of moving all those legs, and gets all twisted up as a result. I would feel like I couldn't take deep enough breaths, which made me all tense and achy, which made it even more laborsome to breathe. I wanted to quit, the practice if not life; although - if you're to believe the old zen masters - they're the same.

  8. Anthony - I am so excited to go back. Gonna be awhile though. We've just ramped up to decidedly ungloomy around here.

    Eva - This is an important point to remember. Everything passes. If we didn't have this emptiness, we wouldn't seek such creative fill. If we didn't have this darkness, our creativity would be far more one sided. There are blessings and curses that come with being such a one. We will breathe together.

    Lorraine - My decisions about medication change just about every hour :) One day at a time huh?

    Andreas - I can perfectly picture that centipede. So much of sports is this same way. To focus on the mechanics is to perform poorly. I tried to golf. It didn't work out. Too many mechanics.

  9. sometimes i feel like we're at the beach and we're all building the same sand castle, all patting the same pile of sand, just from different directions. yes, annie, i know this feeling. for me it comes in quiet times, perfect times. enough~

    and even the ordinary that i wrote about at my place. it is the same pile of sand that i touch, that you touch, again just from different directions. of course your boy is extraordinary. of course your pain is extraordinary. of course your joy is extraordinary, your love, your loss. it is, after all, to you - everything. and so it is for me. even for Walter. and you should have seen Walter's mother. she was a severe and ass shaking black woman who beat her drum at me daily. i loved her, hated her, revered her, feared her. she wept on his bed as though he were dying and she made damn well sure he wasn't!

    but these legs carry me, these two things beneath me, through this world, to the table, to the hill, to the cemetary. it is not miraculous that we should live and die, however, it is a miracle that we should live at all. and so we are not so far apart.


  10. Understood. I often think of these dramatic moments...when I almost cut my own thumb off and stood there not wanting to look at it, screaming "is it still on? is it still on?" I think about the time my son slit his arm open on a bathroom tile...and pushing my towel into the spurting blood. When my husband had a stroke. Your post had me thinking back to some awful childhood atrocities...against me, against others, and I wondered throughout reading your post, why I couldn't be "huh. ordinary." Why can't I go into shock and just avoid. Well, it just ain't meant to be. I have my own side to the sand pile and "there's just no gettin' 'round it Shelby." I've got my own ass shaking I suppose :)

  11. Annie, this comment caught my attention: "I find my breath to be shallow, all the time. It's not healthy. I am prepared always for fight or flight..."

    Bear with me here. Something I learned, both as a marathon runner and as a yoga practitioner, is that some of us are "chest-breathers" and some of us are "belly-breathers." I've no doubt a whole lotta factors come into play to morph a person into a "chest-breather." It truly is an expression of a "fight or flight" predisposition.

    It's far preferable to be a "belly-breather." I'm lucky, I suppose. I discovered I was a belly-breather during long runs in the forest. The point was brought home in yoga classes. Belly-breathing is a far more relaxed state.

    Soooooo...I gently nudge you to be mindful of your breathing. Practice belly-breathing.

    And keep listening to great music!

  12. there is a way to know if SSRI are right for you...when you decide to withdraw and those six weeks of sheer hell is still better than how you felt before you took them you should take them...for those people whose withdrawal is so much worse than anything they ever felt, should never have been put on them in the first place

  13. Jonas - I heard the same thing in Pilates. For someone who was told to hold their stomach in from the day the were old enough to understand the phrase, it's just so unnatural to belly breathe. I do try to be mindful of it, especially when stressed or nervous. I will focus on the breathing to calm myself down. Thanks for the nudge.

    Lorraine - I hear you. It's an interesting journey. Always has been. Sheer hell sucks.

  14. Annie, I love cemeteries and I love air :). Could I give them up? one will come when the other ceases. But air I often feel tired of grasping for, though I have never had a panic attack. I focus on breathing quite often. It helps.

  15. My panics attacks are usually in slow motion and silent -- and the only cure is to be alone for a while.

    I've been off my routine for the last couple of weeks, but usually I ride a bicycle for exercise daily -- my route usually leading me past -- almost through -- an old Buddhist cemetery. Sometimes there's incense coming up, there are often fresh flowers ... very old stones and Buddhist statues. It's a constant reminder that time is limited …

    Phew, I need to take a breath, in, out, in, out -- still so much left to do -- I can hear a child laughing in the background. That's good.

    I really appreciate your writings.

  16. I LOVE old cemeteries... the new ones just don't have the same feel.

    I don't think I've ever had a panic attack, per se... but I have felt out of control a few times... felt as if I didn't have control of my own Life. Those were the scariest of times for me...


  17. I think we all have cemetery stories. I know I do. I write them to cheer up!


    I also have a short story that may one day morph into a strange and Joel-Ethan Coen-esque type of visionary B&W film called, The Forever Breath, spanning the 20th Century.

    It's about a guy who does what you suggest -- give up breathing altogether. This may, in fact, be my next piece.

    - Eric

  18. the last line made me laugh.. God is growing tired of our vanity it seems.


Thank you for listening.