This Day: Breathing, Burning, Being born
“Today,” I thought, when I woke up to gold mirrors reflecting the just-woke sunlight. “This day.” This is the day I chose to be born.
Yogis empower us with that agency: they say that each of us chooses the time, place, family of our birth. I chose 4:20pm. Los Angeles, my Indian parents, who were so exhausted by my cyclic rushing/indecision (I will be born now! No, I will wait! Ok, Now! Kidding!) that the nurses were caring for my just-fainted father when my mother went into labor.
This is the day I left the blindness of darkness, and chose instead to flex my limbs and my lungs, to stretch for free space, to smile before crying. To open my eyes. To welcome color, to be in light. To breathe.
Above all, to breathe.
When you drop into breathing, there is nothing else. Time, space— all boundaries fall away, illusory to the reality of prana, of energy, of the diaphragm that makes audible your breath, the rhythm of your life.
I was born Wednesday, January 6th. My only birthday plan was to not do all the things I always do on birthdays: fly to a beach; throw a party; organize long, extravagant meals with my favorite people. I wanted change. So did many others. Riots went on in DC, my old home. I didn’t know until later, midnight, falling asleep to a serenade, solo saxophone and love flowing from one bedroom in DC to mine in the village, via facetime.
While the riots were happening, I was aware only of the sensation that New York City was holding its breath, and that I was holding my past. It irked me, that weight, like something that needed a good exhale.
Instead of writing that afternoon, I found myself walking west, eating an apple and carrying ten years of journals. I figured if I did not find a fire, I would drop my writings into the Hudson, give the past to the current, make space for the future.
I did find a fire. And a man who built it for me, burning sandalwood and firewood and my papers. Time fell away to make space for the beauty of watching flames, inhaling the words that went from paper to smoke to invisibility, which is where they came from in the first place. Ether, our thoughts, that sometimes yearn for expression, and sometimes for dissolution.
There was a pace to it, the burning. Slow, at first, until the heat built itself into a speed, a desire to consume the work, beginning with edges and working their way into the center of every page, which is how every breath, and page of writing begins: something edge-like that pulls you back to center.
Walking back east, some hours later: it was dark. I was light, unburdened by what I once was, what I had thought, or dreamt, or felt before. It was a renewal of freedom, like that first choice, to be born out of past lives and into this one.