Paying Attention to Moments that Breathe Extra Gusts of Life Into Me

Like la la la la la, la la la la la, la la, la la, la la.

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I was sitting at a stoplight, waiting to turn left. Rain fell on my windshield as I rested my left, black Hunter boot off the clutch. I leaned my head back on the headrest, and sat motionless, not really tuned in to anything. Nothing except my upcoming grocery shopping adventure. For the first time in my life, I would wear a nose-and-mouth mask to shop for groceries.

I wondered how it would be to breathe through my homemade mask for an entire shopping trip. I wondered how it would feel to see others wearing, or not wearing masks. I wondered how it would be to talk with others, and how it would feel to communicate through our soft barriers. I wondered how long I would sit in my car after I parked, before going inside. I’ve been doing more car sitting lately.

Like yesterday, when I decided to go for a drive. After seven days of virtual learning and being inside most of the time, I decided to see outside, from my car. I drove 30 minutes northeast of my home, eventually getting onto a two-lane highway that curves through a canyon, next to the Kern River. I rounded a curve to the right and had to catch my breath.

The bold, rocky canyon walls suddenly turned into vibrant, green, lush hills. Hills alive and dotted with forest green trees on the tops and sides. The river rushed to the left of us. Rocks still decorated the landscape, and wildflowers danced in the rain on the side of the highway.

As soon as I could, I turned around. I drove back. I returned to the moment the green hills took my breath, and decided to let them help me find it again. I slowed down and parked my car in a pullout right by the river. I got out of my car and walked closer to the beauty.

I took in the sound of the river, the sway of the flowers, the life in the hills. I wondered at the earth anew as I let the rain become part of me, too.

CA 178

This morning, as I sat motionless at the red light, feeling anxious about shopping for groceries, I suddenly tuned into the song playing in my car. It had been background noise until these lyrics registered:

“La la la la la
La la la la la
La la, la la, la
La la la la la
La la la la la
La la, la la, la

La La La La La
La La La La La
La La, La La, La La
La La La La La
La La La La La
La La, La La, La La

LA LA LA LA LA
LA LA LA LA LA
LA LA, LA LA, LA LA
LA LA LA LA LA
LA LA LA LA LA
LA LA, LA LA, LA LA”

~The Lumineers, Gun Song

Suddenly I found myself singing along to these profound lyrics. First, quietly and still relatively motionless. As the la la la’s progressed, I found myself sitting up straighter and singing with more gumption. Before I knew it, I was smiling and bobbing my head and wondering if the people to my left were getting a free show.

The light turned green, and I made the left turn. After another mile, I turned into the grocery store parking lot. I parked the car and listened to the rain. I got a piece of paper and pen and started making a list. I looked up a recipe for pasta salad and wrote down the ingredients I needed, as well as some other items like coffee and fruit and cheese and other things.

I looked at myself in the mirror as I twisted my hair into a low bun. I wrapped the mask around my face and secured it to my head, above my bun. I gathered my things and got out of the car, then ran through the rain into the store.

As soon as I stepped through the door, I was tuned into my surroundings. The disinfectant wipes were out. A sign read, “Please take your cart outside with you” and I hoped that indicated the staff cleaned each cart before they brought it back in. I grabbed one anyway because I needed to buy food so I could keep eating, though I had considered fasting for the next 40 days, while I was still sitting in my car.

I pushed the basket in, and started shopping. I noticed when I touched things and put them back. I noticed how some aisles had more dishevelment of shelves than others, like the pasta aisle. Thankfully, there was still some whole grain fusilli left.

I noticed we still wanted to talk to each other, even through our masks and anxiety. “Excuse me” rang louder in my ear than ever before. I wanted to reach out and hug each person who said even those two words to me.

I took my time getting the things I needed. I adjusted my mask when I felt like it was too thin across my nose. Then I adjusted it again when I was having trouble breathing. I heard another song that moved me so I let it. I did a little dance down an aisle near the ice cream.

When I finished, I got in line behind a woman who was told to move back. She had been putting her groceries on the belt, but there was still another woman paying. She looked back at me, flustered? Sad? The other woman looked back at her and me, scared? Sad? I smiled with my eyes and leaned on my cart handle, wishing I could give both of them hugs.

I made it to the belt and put my things there as I told the woman I had two of those water bottles, and that whichever type of bag is easiest would work for me. I wondered if she could hear me through the mask. I could hear her, but she had a more official kind on. We finished the transaction successfully, with thanks you’s, but no hugs.

I ran back through the rain with my cart, put the groceries away, and ripped the mask off as soon as I got back in my car. I drove home and sat in my car for an hour before I took the groceries inside.

Tonight, as I wondered what there was to write about, I lay my head back against the wall. I began rolling it back and forth, massaging the back of my head. My body asked for a light yoga routine, even though I had decided to take today off. I listened.

I set my mat up in the same sacred space I created for myself over the last week, while I was going through my first week of yoga teacher training. I did some very gentle yoga movements. I couldn’t get hugs from others today, but this was a good way to hug myself.

I finished my short, gentle practice and returned to the blank page. Life is always being breathed into us. Our lungs tell us this. Sometimes it’s harder to breathe than others. It helps to pay attention to the moments when an extra gust comes along to carry us.

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Yoga teacher, adventurer, storyteller happily based in California 🌼

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Lindsay with an a

Lindsay with an a

Yoga teacher, adventurer, storyteller happily based in California 🌼

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