Oh, Mary

I’m Chanting as We Speak

April 8, 2020
Patrick McGuire

Economically furloughed, united in spirit, we stare through open windows, front porches and balconies, and out the windows of speeding cars.  We accept the universal invitation to breathe differently. 

Inhale.  Now exhale with hope for a cleaner world.  

Like everything “unprecedented” we’re in the longest stretch of clean air since WWII according to the EPA.  The YMCA is closed. 

Like many of us, I walk.  Fat F*ck Frank is leashed.  Shawn has a camera.  I have poop bags.  Most nights we circumnavigate Seattle’s famed Seward Park where old growth forests, open woodlands, and shorelines beckon hundreds of species of birds including owls, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and bald eagles.

We see social distancing there refined to a high art as thundering walking hordes participate and public parks remain open.  Imagine a city park an allegory for urban sprawl.  Some are suggesting parks remain open 24 hours to stagger our new pastime.  Patsy, Walking After Midnight.

As a management consultant and PR executive, I’ve been needled for selling “air” for a living.  Now, as a bonafide walker, I’m working on being a better listener.  I’m also chanting as we speak.  Chanting until I feel great.

Hilariously mimed by Jennifer Saunders in Absolutely Fabulous, chanting and speaking is vastly more entertaining than spiritual awakening wrapped in catastrophe. 

Today and perhaps far into the future it is possible to see nature as a living depiction of our own physical lives.  Never has the experience of breathing oxygen been more profound.  Never have we seen urban settings like these, where the act of embracing nature actually means that our lives are embraced by the environment.

Add rain to your clean air walk, even better.  Breathing expiates Karma.  I never was able to sit still for very long and focus on something as fundamental as breathing.  I took Tai Chi and didn’t make it through my first class.  Meditation in motion?  Forget it.  Then there was the time my friend Kim and I were expelled from Yoga for doing the Downward Dog inelegantly, but that’s another story.

Inhalation is a source of inspiration.  When we breathe in, we say to ourselves with anticipation, “I am breathing in.”  

Exhalation is a source of expiation.  Breathing out, we tell ourselves we are letting go, “I am breathing out.” 

‪As capitalism gets a world class makeover, consumerism is in for a spiritual blowout.  Siddhartha famously said, “Illness gives rise to the way.”  It turns out consumption isn’t just a pathology of the lungs.  Obstacles are fuel.  Quarantined but not defeated, we now see the consumption of material things confused, irrelevant.  Less is finally more.

We’re headed for earth day.  Maybe a longer quarantine.  Though it’s easier to hold our lives in suspended animation, I choose to embrace the world as it is and wait for the changes to come.  For me, right now, simply breathing is a joy we cannot miss.