January 7, 2014
Bathed in frigid air I stand at the gas pump watching my exhales. Molecules move stubbornly, trudging along so slowly there is an added stillness to everything. Even the gas vapors that normally dance around my nostrils tumble to the ground, bowing to the arctic vortex that presses down on everything.
My breath forms ice crystals as soon as I push the air from my lungs. They spread like apparitions, haunting the air around me long enough to give me faith in their presence before floating away. I can’t catch them even if I want. That’s the thing about exhalation –once it’s out there it’s out of our control. We cannot form the opinions of others no matter how many times we fantasize about how amazing we are or how full of shit we might be.
The fantasy might go something like this. The image of a sleek stranger in knee high red boots twirling her hair as she sips her third latte forms in our brain. We direct her every move.
Stage direction one: Scan the page with a look of disgust then whisper OMG and press down on the return key with all your might.
Stage direction two: Click once then melt into the soothing bath of puppies, kittens, and Gucci handbags. Really make the viewers believe in your combined apathy and need for gratification. Raise your eyebrows in faux-delight. Do not raise them high enough to show true elation.
Director’s sidebar: Do you know the difference between faux-delight and true elation? It’s measured in millimeters but it’s distinguishable.
How many times do we imagine all of this before our minds even begin to form a thought? We let our truths wilt like a flower caught in a late spring frost –cells burned by the brutality of ice. So we keep silent, or we edit the hell out of everything until there are no comma splices and no run on sentences. We lose our substance.
I ask myself about my fears as I listen to the glug of gas pouring into my tank and watch the numbers getting bigger and bigger. I am scared of sounding like one of those new subdivisions resting at the edge of town. People glance past these subdivisions but the houses are never seen. Instead, they are like thumbtacks pressed into a corkboard – shiny and red but only useful as a prop for something else.
I continue to watch my breath feather out into the ether and realize that at any given moment that is all we are – air currents colliding, mixing with the ether until we are all one. Our individuality disappears when we become part of something bigger.
Isn’t that the point of it all – to be part of something bigger?
There is only one way to do it. First love yourself enough to become the most brilliant version of yourself. Name your fears and get on with the day. Then courageously add your contribution to the world. It all begins with an inhale followed by the words “I am.”
So who are you? I’d like to know.