We breathe in, and breathe out, thousands of times, every day. We don’t have to think about it. Our bodies do it automatically. Prompted by a complex physiology of which we might be dimly aware, our chests rise and fall – our lungs inhale and exhale, expanding and emptying – oxygen is absorbed into our bloodstream, carbon dioxide flows out of our nostrils.
As humans, we can live for quite some time without food, much less time without water; but for mere minutes without breathing. Quite simply, it is necessary for us to breathe in order to live.
We breathe in, and out, until we don’t. Breath is ever-present, until it isn’t.
Seared into our collective consciousness now are the last words of George Floyd, ‘I can’t breathe’ as his life was brutally ended on an ordinary day in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Just as Eric Garner’s life ended, his breath taken away. As it has been for tens of hundreds of thousands of men and women whose lives have been brutally taken from them, the same words cried out or silent. Now those words are repeated by millions around the country who march and chant, fists raised in the air.
I can’t breathe.
Marchers wear masks, so what is breathed out doesn’t become what the person standing next to them breathes in. Because we are in the time of a pandemic, when anyone might, at any time, be contaminated; be a toxin to the stranger or lover a few inches, or feet, away.
But you have to breathe to march and chant. You cannot hold your breath.Continue reading Breathe.