The Unconscious Effort of Living

My confidence sort of bobs in and out of view. All the gurus say people like me are waiting for permission, but I don’t think that is an honest assessment of what is going on. I am waiting for a guarantee that I will succeed and avoid criticism. I’m waiting to experience some kind of fairy tale emergence: affirmed, appreciated, acknowledged – the words aren’t coming to me this morning, and that hardly helps matters.

I remind myself that this is all a fluid state of existence. I wonder if all living things are in a fluid state of existence. That would be some sort of comfort. Maybe a constant state of anything is death. Inertia.

Any kind of meditation on this brings me back to practice.

Practice is like breathing. We are what we do and we cease being when the activity stops.

Human beings breathe. I saw an odd meme on Facebook about how we actually have only 2 minutes to live. Then we breathe again and reset the clock. I am aware that how profound anything is, is entirely based on the context in which we encounter it. So, yes, this struck me as incredibly profound. Meditating on this thought is grounding. I feel the reality of my soft animal body, fragile as a tissue paper crane.

I think butterfly. Spider web. Magnolia. Jellyfish. But everything is a matter of perspective.

Fragility, too. A spider web is 5 times stronger than steel.

We breathe.

I go through it every year with at least two groups of students. I pull out the skeleton and have them gather around. I point to where the intercostal muscles should be. The diaphragm.

I show them how the ribs will rise and fall with each breath. I tell them that no matter how determined they are to hold their breath underwater, the body would eventually inhale. The weird voluntary/involuntary muscles of the diaphragm override our will and contract to increase the volume capacity of our lungs, to change the air pressure, and we will inhale. The body is determined to live. It trusts instinct over intellect.

We work to keep ourselves alivewhether we are conscious of it or not.

I see an internet search result: “When you inhale, your diaphragm lowers”. But that’s the entire truth. When your diaphragm lowers, you inhale.

This morning I write. Imperfectly (as always), but I write. I trust that some mechanism in my body is weirdly triggering/triggered by the unconscious drive to be.

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  1. “I am waiting for a guarantee that I will succeed and avoid criticism. I’m waiting to experience some kind of fairy tale emergence: affirmed, appreciated, acknowledged…” This strikes such a chord with me. It’s like all we want is for our voices to be heard, for the world to know we exist as writers, and that we have something valuable to say. I don’t even think it’s about external validation, to be honest, but just the need to be heard.

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