Breathe (with thanks to Alexi Murdoch)

I was reminded the other night that the whole world begins and ends with how you treat yourself. I spent last week in California helping my sister with her two week old baby, while also taking care of my 7 month old baby, who decided because he was in a new place he would go back to waking up 3-4x during the night. I came home exhausted with the start of a cold, which over the course of this week has unleashed a fury unlike a cold I’ve had in years, in part because I haven’t been getting the kind of sleep you need to really fight one of these things. Tossing and turning, listening to Liam crying out at random intervals because, yes indeed, he’s now coming down with it, I got up and put on the kettle. The kitchen was quiet, it was 12:30am and every time I swallowed my throat burned and my head filled with snot so that it felt like I was drowning. “I am miserable,” my brain raged, “I am tired and frustrated and I want someone to take care of me right now.” Lower lip puckered, stomping of feet. I sat down on the stool in the kitchen sipping Throat Coat tea and breathing in menthol. My head continued to dial out all of the things I should be doing and all of the things I was failing at, including getting a cold. I plugged into the iPod to block out the brain, like a teenager locking the door on their room and turning up the music. In the quiet of the shadow In the corner of a room Darkness moves upon you Like a cloud across the moon resonates against the cranium making the deep quiet around me all the more palpable. The nuances of the music are thrilling when listened to through earphones. It provides invisibility; you’re inside this bubble looking out with your own sound system. I needed to be reminded that I can get there without going anywhere.

I am alone here, I am always alone. I’m looking around the kitchen in the soft glow of the moonlight and realize that man, I am so loved. I am incredibly privileged to be alive. I came across the thought in some reading recently that people are dying every moment and so many of them would give everything to be you, alive, regardless of your current situation. I have a cold. It will go away tantrum thrower, and you will feel better and it will be Spring and life will go on. I am reminded that how I treat myself is what I am able to project out to others. I calmed my breathing down and finally was able to get some air in and out of my nose. If nothing else, a cold is just a reminder to slow down and take care of myself. Not a reason to get mad at Slade for putting in ear plugs so that he could avoid the cacophony of his family, or to toss and turn with dramatic aplomb to show him how really sick and miserable I am. And I heard the voice, sad and small: be nice to me. This is where everything starts. It’s hard to remember to do this simple thing when you get caught up in the day to day. But day after day, if you aren’t nice to yourself you stop caring. And if you stop caring about yourself there is no way you can care about others. This is the lesson I constantly touch back upon, a buoy bobbing in the water that I bounce against as I race by in my speedboat life. It just doesn’t work any other way.

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