Gust of breath starts our journey.
Rust of death finishes it.
In between, we breathe gazillions of times. Our breath catches in our throats; it labours, quickens, trembles nervously in the winds of high emotion. It can be sweet or rank. It can entice our lovers and repel those who dislike spicy foods or tobacco. It can rattle and roll and rale. It can accelerate into adrenaline’s highest summit of panic and flop with a dying heart into almost nothingness.
Breath is versatile and capricious. We take it for granted – most of us. But, as anyone who has ever had an asthma attack will be aware, those easy respirations cannot be relied upon, and the clenching terror of airways closing once experienced is never forgotten.
We use breath in our metaphors, our poems, our romantic language: We refer to a special beloved as someone who has taken our breath away. We refer to a beautiful landscape as breathtaking.
Breath is life.
Death is not.
But, between the two states, we run the full gamut of breathing experiences. In a full life, breath is not always easy or pain-free, or linked to happiness and health – but it is our first gift once we leave our mothers, and the final gift we give back to the Creator.