When you close your eyes and take in a deep breath, you are met with a moment of peace. Life really is that simple.
But I don’t expect you to believe me right away. It’s just too modest a concept to be true! In fact, even now, I have to pause to remember this important lesson from my past. It gets lost so easily in the complexity of thought.
So instead of asking you to listen in blind faith, I’m going to share with you a story of how I came to this wisdom. In the end, you can decide what you choose to believe. All I ask is that you make that decision after taking your own deep breath:
When I was ten years old, I had a medical condition that required constant medication delivered by epidural. We relied on a local compounding pharmacy to deliver the script, and eventually, there was bound to be human error. That error came on Halloween night.
Sewn into a witch outfit made specifically for my swelling and casts, I began to feel nauseous. I wanted to trick-or-treat, to join the crowd of ghosts, witches, and cats, but I could feel my head sway from side-to-side. Sweat dripped from my hands and onto my pumpkin candy bag; my palms were shaking in my lap. My flesh was burning and aching with the constant feeling of being stabbed with a flaming knife. Somewhere between nausea, anticipation, and pain, my mom had readied me for bed, deciding my sister would just have to get my candy. She pulled my thin, pink blanket to my chin, careful to keep my swollen leg uncovered, and wished me a good night.
The next thing I knew, my mom was screaming at my bed, her body turning to run down the hall. My consciousness faded as I lay mumbling without words, still holding my hand as though I were grasping the pumpkin candy bag. Clicking my tongue to my lips, I nestled my head in my pillow, my body into Egyptian cotton sheets. The peaceful comfort of my bed extended for miles, and I just couldn’t understand what all the yelling could mean.
My head began to shake back and forth, but all I felt was wonder. If something was wrong, I wished my mom would just talk to me. When I tried to scream for her attention, though, my attempts were detached, my vocal cords too remote for my brain to control. Everything, even the worry, seemed so distant.
My mom ran back into my room almost immediately with two men and a gurney, her voice swallowing dry tears. I felt like I sat up in bed in response, though I know now I didn’t. With the injury and medication, not to mention the seizure, I physically couldn’t. Whatever they were doing, I lay there invisible. They moved at double-speed, while I watched as though the world were moving at half its pace. For every word they said, I could whisper twelve. Don’t worry, I thought to myself, sitting in a silence more vast than any silence I’d ever heard. Slow down.
The weight of my inflamed body melted from my bones, and I rose, floating from the bed to the bay window. I had worn a white, ankle-length pajama to bed, one covered with smiley faces on top and an old Egyptian cotton sheet on bottom. It was an original, sewn together by my mom from my two favorite materials that I just wouldn’t throw away. Staring from the window seat at the body in my bed, I wondered how that girl, too, had one of my pajamas. Her hair was the same strawberry blonde as mine, her leg just as swollen and cheeks just as sickly pale.
Realizing what I was seeing, I felt like the proper reaction would be to gulp. But I had no need to react. My mind was at peace.
Everyone in the room looked so worried, jamming the gurney to my bedside, calling out numbers. Everyone seemed so frazzled.
Don’t worry, I called out, unseen at the window.
Looking behind me, I could make out ambulance lights swirling in our driveway. It was all so interesting, so curious.
I’m okay, I thought, fading out of consciousness.
“You’ll be okay.” A man at the head of the gurney stared into my face as my body convulsed in violent thrashes. Tension wrinkled through my forehead, my eyes staying only slightly open as I gasped for more air.
I remember worrying about my nightgown – I didn’t want them to tear it. I remember seeing the popcorn acoustic ceiling as we moved from the hallway, through an arch to the living area. And with a final thought to not worry, I forgot the convulsions and let the world fade away.
When moving through my days since then, I often forget what I felt sitting separate from my body. But the opportunity to know that feeling is a gift I keep near.
When we think life is rushed, I know now, perhaps it isn’t. Take a step back, and we have all the time that we need. When we worry about the worst possible outcome, I think now, to choose to feel calm. Just maybe, the anxiety will fade away.
We all have a tendency to complicate matters. We build stress into each day. We look to the future with fear and anxiety. We look into our past with regrets and what ifs. We complicate our lives until we forget that we have the power to take a simple, deep breath.
So pause with me a minute. Take a deep breath.
And hear me out, because I’m not pointing fingers. I do the same ‘complicating’ thing. But then I remember the girl in the window seat, the girl who chose to sit apart from the worry. I feel her weightlessness and calm. And I ask myself, ‘Girl, what are you doing?!’ With a simple choice to just breathe, life will always unveil an extra sliver of peace.
© 2018 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.