Breathing, at my age

I was hiking a week before my birthday and as I stumped along I regretted that I was a year older. That hasn’t happened before; I have laughed at people who are bothered by their birthdays. What difference does it make? Closer to being dead; so much the better.

It wasn’t the death ahead that bothered me, though; it was the death behind. My impression of the year past is stillness; an unbreathing waiting for visitation. Pursuit of something worthless is one regret; failure to achieve something worthwhile is another regret; and the absence of striving is a third.

Our concerns swell up and pass away; the seasons are exchanged. The earth is turned over what remains of the harvest. Aspire, perspire, expire; from first to last, respire.

That is why I was out hiking; to draw in lungfuls of where I was and then let them go. For deeper breathing, I let myself stay out too late, too far. How then shall you live? I asked, and for a moment it was a good question. But it did not last, just as plunging downhill in the forest on bike had not and plowing through the lake at the end of a rope had not. I took a breath, yes, but I did not remember how to breathe.

So that is my goal for this year of my life: to take breathing lessons.