Monday, April 28, 2014

On Air

Air is possibility. We don't even notice it until it adds voice and motion as wind. When air becomes active. When I run I can't drink in enough air, filling my lungs, clearing them, repeat. When the big shit in our lives happen, when heavy or tense or anger or sad happen, we instinctively take deep breaths, looking for air, but not naming it.

Before we got too smart, the ancient Greeks, pre-Socrates, had the Universe broken down into air, water, earth and fire. The elements. Now we've named everything so fancily, we can't even get our minds around it. But we can breathe.

I'm being bird stalked when I run these days. Mostly by male cardinals. For a couple months now, every time I run, I get swooped by one. Almost always when I've forgotten they are watching me, and a fastball of red, or maybe it's a sinker, I don't have a batter's eye anymore, swings by, standing out against green trees and air. Once one lit for a second on a fence right next to the rail trail, nodding as I went by, and I smiled at him. Birds have air figured out.

Air is part of what my heron tattoo is about. The heron inhabits both air and water. Maybe he looks at home in both, or maybe not quite in either. I wanted to make sure both elements were part of the design. Herons inhabit and invoke both.

Wind is air at its most vocal. Air that says, don't fu** with me. The big bad wolf has nothing on wind. I lie in bed and I can hear the wind talking to the trees, unsure who speaks louder in that conversation. I drive over the Bay Bridge to work and feel wind push the car, which when you're that high above the water, that slight reminder says enough. Be kind wind. Be kind.

Brenda Hillman writes the elements. She is working through books on each. Her "Pieces of Air in the Epic," moves through air. She reminds us how cut off, out of sync we are with air:

Wind will rend the suburbs
With information seeking nature

or more depressingly:

They were mostly raised
in tanklike SUVs called Caravan or   Quest; winds rarely visited them.

When we're inside, packed away in our house, or seat-belted comfortably in our cars, we forget that air can be wind. That we absolutely need it to live, to breathe, but it doesn't need us. What if we get so comfortable, so cut off, that the winds rarely visit us? That would suck. No, that would blow.

Hillman brings us back with writing. I think Air is why I run. Elemental Air, filling my lungs to bursting, on the final mile home, Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free," in my ears, heart pounding, talking to Air. In conversation. I'm not sure who is speaking, who is listening, who is breathing.

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