Like the trees of new spring, this morning I feel modern and ancient at the same time. I know that within each breath, there is a new spring.
A Lineage with Nature
Nature was my first breathing teacher: bonfires, burnt leaves, wildflowers, newly gutted fish, fresh water. One could only inhale deeply, for that is what nature does.
When I was little, and at the conservation area where my dad had his trailer, I’d walk for hours wondering if the trees would feel it if I put my initials in them, whether the tent caterpillars were annoying them. Was that muskrat I found infected with rabies just because it let me pet it?
I’d jump into the fast-moving, small falls among the fisher people’s lines, the rocks, the carp (which freak me out). I’d pick wildflowers and make crowns; I’d eat year old chocolate bars, the ones that turned white from being kept in the back of a shack for 3 seasons that smelled of stale sunshine and dead wood. It was always Milky Way because the Caramilk at that point was beyond recognition. The time spent here was of less fear and anxiety, mostly because I could wander off from sunrise until sundown alone, only occasionally running into my twin brother or a park ranger.
I kissed my first boy there. I think his name was Craig. I also think his parents made candles or something. I was 11, bruised from a fracturing family and carrying not only their historical traumas but my own. Nature was my healer.
Anyway, Craig got his first knife - a fake wood handled switchblade, a so-called “Fishing Knife.” He was desperate to use it. So like any carefully crafter teenage rom com and, being mimicking romantic pre-teens, we carved our initials into the tree and kissed. The kiss wasn’t great, much less anything else. I was still in love with Elisabeth Shue - Adventures in Babysitting was everything. She swore. She was my dream girl.
I wanted to tell my dad and the people rotating forever at our site (the beer and whiskey never ran dry at C-61) what Craig and I did out of feeling more mature than I was when I had left that morning. I saw my father sitting by the fire, and I came around the corner where the graveled roadway meets a desire path of trampled grass. He is a spirit born of nature himself, and I knew immediately without speaking a word, the ancient shame in what I had done. I had hurt that tree. Their strength and ultimately, resilience was not lost on me.
I am sorry. I love you. May all my breath honor you.
The trees there and everywhere held the most magic for me - a lesson that my father taught me. I’d press my dirty stained, chocolate coated fingertips and palms to the trees - press hard, breathe in, out, in and out. I wondered how it was possible that they were so old and still held new young green in the spring?
My imagination pictured them zygotes of next spring, resting a spell and then late February working really hard in the trunk and branches of the tree to turn themselves into leaves. They resembled tiny little woodland creatures that magically turned into that one type of green that spring has; that green that is irreproducible anywhere else but in nature. I pictured the first leaves, heaving with breath into existence, like us human spirits often do, encouraging the other leaves to arrive. In the seasons that followed, my spirit saw the trees have rituals and funerals for their fallen family as the weather got colder. I thanked them for the wonderment of the sound of their crunching underfoot while raking leaves, jumping in the piles. I’d collect leaves and in typical 80’s craft style, iron them between two sheets of waxed paper. This is oak, this is cedar, this is walnut, this is birch, this is maple.
I woke up this morning feeling, in fall, a new spring. I felt a restlessness to share, to allow myself the space to feel lifetimes old and new. This new spring was breathing.
Facing East: An exhale for energetic possibilities with the first warm sun of Spring
Facing South: A gentle pause for the vitality of an adolescent Summer
Facing West: An inhale for work ahead, and comfort of Fall
Facing North: Another gentle pause to acknowledge but not dwell on the Winter weight, depression.
For me, this is all there is.
The cyclical nature of breathing.
For the Youth I Teach
For the youth i/we teach, breathing is the same.
Like trees in Spring we inhale their wild and energetics
Like Summer trees with sunshine, they’re bright and self-consumed in the sweetest way pausing to make the best parts of it last forever.
Like fall they experience all the pain and emotions us adults do, often loudly. And in winter, to those who keep it all inside themselves, we breathe for you too.
For, like the quiet trees in winter, your springtime will come.
The time to teach breathing is now. When we teach anyone to breathe, we see their growth, and attention is new. They are allowed to be, for once, for those short few moments, we all get to be. Breathing together is a communion that transcends neighborhood lines and affiliations - it bypasses drama and pain while letting us feel it all with an oriented containment that is intelligent and wise. It actually helps heal.
New spring is fucking cool.
Like the trees, we can be grounded, and anciently resilient - really having had seen some shit in our lives, and then bam - produce the most brilliant hopeful green. From them we learn to un-age, we become young.