I recently finished Eat, Love, Pray.
I haven't identified that much with a literary voice in a very long time. It was a treat to take a journey around the world and through the depths of emotion via words chosen by someone who seeks out so many of my favorite things: food, words, appreciation for the beautiful song of the Italian language, beauty, yoga, spirituality, struggles against internal demons, travel, a desire to be a better person, drawing personal boundaries to protect the self only to watch them crumble when the time is right, wonder at the universe, and a desire for balance.
I adored reading this book.
When I finished the book, I got a call from a friend who had been in a very dark place a while back. He'd stopped returning my calls in the middle of an apparent overdose. At the time, I'd told him to breathe, then I'd asked what he had taken, and where his son was. The list of drugs was long, coupled with alcohol, and his breaths came in uneasy gulps separated by sobs. But he seemed to understand the implications of his actions and had actually called me to ask for help checking into rehab. Suddenly, he needed to be done with his addictions. That day.
Thankfully, his son was at daycare, his wife was on her way back from out-of-town and his mother was on her way over. Both adults had promised to get him into a program that night, which was a good thing, because despite his promises not to ignore me, he did stop taking my calls that day. When he didn't pick up after the 4th attempt, I took a deep breath and asked the universe to protect him, knowing that there was nothing more I could do.
He called after I finished the book to let me know he'd completed his month of rehab and was in a much better place. I was so happy for him and before we finished the call, I reminded him to breathe.
Last night, I had the opportunity to instant message with a friend who is going through a divorce. She misses her ex horribly (he left her), but has gotten to the place where she doesn't want to be with him. So, it sucks. Because she misses him, but knows he is bad for her and thus, the pain is all for naught.
All I could do was tell her that she was doing great (which is true, actually, given everything she's facing, she's fine emotionally, and somehow, professionally, in the midst of all the drama she's accomplishing things she only dreamed of a few years ago). And, of course, when she told me she was crying, I told her to breathe.
I laughed at myself, because "breathe" has become my go-to advice for myself when I get worked up, and I always offer it to friends and family who are facing difficult situations. After my laughter, I recalled that the word "Aspire" comes from the latin word "Aspirare" which means to breathe upon.
And, I think that's right. All great things begin with the breath. First we breathe, then we act. Getting through the darkness requires us to breathe, one breath at a time, until it is light again. Even great big hopes and dreams, they begin with small steps, that are breathed upon, during, and through by the step-takers.
So, breathe. Fix a hope or dream in your mind. Take the time to breathe upon it, calm yourself with it, tend to it a little bit each day, and see what grows.