Living & Breathing

Opening Chapter
Was I breathing now? Was I actually inhaling and exhaling? What just happened? It was as if I had just cut a cord or walked out a door and then I could feel my lungs expand, my heart race, and my mind seemed so unlimited. Had I thrown off a cloak of years of doing the “right” and “expected”? How did this happen? What intercepted or broke through and made me feel like this? I knew full well what it was. I knew full well what I had encountered. Now, it was time for the backlash. Now it was time to be brave enough to face the music or crawl back into that space that was tidy, neat, safe, and unflinching as things remained stagnant and caused no one, no single person (save me), a discomfort.
I am Beth. This is how I changed the course of things. And I am about to examine a dramatic turn of events in my life. I am breathing now after years of just being. Like Prince Hamlet asked, “To be or not to be,” – I had long questioned what my life was meant to be. I was just “being” – which isn’t unlike Prince Hamlet’s question about whether to struggle with life’s unfair demands or to commit suicide and suffer in Hell. I questioned whether I was to live how I had been living (myself feeling a good amount of self-loathing for the falsity of not being true) or was I to breathe and walk down that path that was unconventional, different, liberated, bohemian even.
Before I begin the story of how I got here. I have to admit that in listening to a Madonna playlist – yes, that Madonna, I realized that so many of her song titles, songs even, could be used to cover the chapters of this story. Yes, I am referencing Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Madonna in my story. And likely many others. You see, Madonna came out with “Like a Virgin” and “Borderline” when I was an anxious teen. There was “Express Yourself” and “Like a Prayer” in my 20s. She has been, and will always be (I hope), a strong-minded, independent, creative woman. She sculpted her identity and became it, ever evolving in a chameleon-like manner, to continue to keep the attention of the public and remain excited for the next project.
While I do not aspire to be in the attention of the public, I want to be in attention to my life. I want to touch the earth, feel the rain, taste the sea salt air, feel the icy winds of winter then the warm swaddle of love once inside my house. I want to take note of the comfort that exists in being alive and in love. I want to know what true, deep, meaningful happiness is. The kind of happiness that we all envy when we see it – the couple that after 15 years still looks each other in the eyes as if it were their second or third date; the couple that brings one another coffee with no expectation; the couple that finishes each other’s sentences in the most casual moments; the couple that helps one another without tying guilt or trade offs or expectations at the most inopportune times. It’s about respect and trust and knowing that together they are greater for each other, that to cherish that person is to build them up, not break them down, not exhaust their energy and life with a lot of one-sided need.
Maybe I am all wrong in every bit of this. Perhaps I have veered off the highway and am just in a surrealistic moment, frozen in the air waiting to land in the ravine and have the airbags explode and break my nose, burn the skin on my arms, and scare the crap out of me if I make it out alive. And maybe, just maybe, I found myself.