"oh what a tangled interweb we weave..."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I take a breath.

Good thing breathing is involuntary. Because if it was left up to me—you know, to remember to breathe in and out on a day to hour to minute to second by second basis—my system would have failed long ago.

When I was a kid one of my favorite games (was it a game?) was to try NOT to blink. I never liked staring contests (I don’t like competition… winners or losers), but when I was by myself in my room or especially in the bathroom in front of a mirror, I would NOT blink for minutes at a time.

Back when I used to take baths (I seem to only take them now when I am sick), I used to submerge my head under the water and pretend that I was a fish. I attempted to breathe circularly—I think that was the term I used to describe my training (who knows where my little seven year old self heard that term).

I think it was David Blaine who set the world record for NOT breathing in 2008. I remember it was on Oprah. Not that I watch or watched Oprah, but I do read all of the online sites that report on shows like Oprah. He didn’t breathe for like 17 minutes. I remember reading that he used a technique called “lung packing”. Basically you breathe in filling your lungs to capacity and then you swallow thereby “packing” your lungs with up to a quart of “extra” oxygen. Extreme, right? And I remember thinking, WOW—you know, at the time. That’s pretty awesome! What an accomplishment!

But now I can’t help but wonder, what was the point? I mean, I guess it’s pretty awesome to be the “best” at something, to be listed in a book as having done something that no one else has ever done, but… for what? What was all the training and the physical pain for really?

I mean, breathing is involuntary for a reason. It’s involuntary because we need oxygen to survive. Thank God I wasn’t entrusted with the responsibility of constantly monitoring my own oxygen intake. Smart smart move.

I saw a show at the 45th Street Theater last night. An evening of B-Sides and Mash-Ups, new collaborative experimental work presented by Creative Destruction (www.creatived.org), a collective dedicated to the creation of political, diverse and electrifying drama. And there was a piece, the final piece of the night actually, entitled Requiem in the Key of H performed by Lanna Joffrey and Tiffany Rachelle Stewart.

Besides being incredibly moved by this quiet rumination on the unimaginably horrific situation in Haiti, I was reminded, while watching Tiffany move about the stage, illuminating Lanna’s words with alternately soft, elegant, disjointed, furious and frantic motions, of the importance of breath, of its power.

Good dancers know how to breathe. Good singers know how to breathe. Good actors know how to breathe. And good writers and directors know to USE their breath to punctuate words and action. Good writers and directors know that the sound of someone breathing is the most natural human sound there is.

Breathing may be mostly an involuntary action, but it doesn’t have to be unintentional. It shouldn’t be really. Intentional breath can calm, soothe and heal. Intentional breath can stir the heart. Spark change. It can remind us of who we are.

There is a lot going on out there. A whole lot of crazy. I know I have a tendency to hold it all in. My advice: Don’t wait to exhale. Do it now.

1 comment:

  1. hey har,
    glad you decided to breathe. wouldn't have been the same without you. wr