Sunday, October 20, 2019

the air

Quite a while back, I read "The Invention of Air" by Steven Johnson.  It is about Joseph Priestly and Benjamin Franklin and the interest in what goes on when we breathe.  With research and thought, we have come to understand that the earth developed its oxygen supply over time, as plants produced oxygen and animals exhaled carbon dioxide.  

When we want to decide if someone is alive or dead, we may listen for a heartbeat but we also check for breathing.  Hearts are internal but breathing is a steady interaction between our body and the world. We can't go more than about three minutes without air to breathe, air containing oxygen, of course.  

The air, the atmosphere, our earthly space, is on my mind for two other reasons.  One is books through the air and one is air as a mental tool. I think that most of my friends steadily prefer to read paper books.  They mention the scent of a book, the heft of it in the hands. I succumbed to their approach the other day when I borrowed a book from the library. It was a book I have an interest in but when I opened it, I saw print that was uncomfortably small.  Fortunately, I can pick up my Kindle and without having it connected to anything, including the wi-fi, have the book delivered to my Kindle in less than a minute. I changed the print to a bigger, more comfortable size.

The air and breathing is a fine tool for the mind and the body.  You might think that since we breathe several times a minute, we would have smoothed out our breathing to the point that all breaths are the same.  Au contraire! If you pay careful, minute attention to the breath, you will find varying characteristics showing up in individual ways. Tiny changes in the speed, intensity, even the sound of each breath can be detected.  One can concentrate on the breath to the exclusion of other thoughts and worries, even while resting one's closed eyes.

I am omitting reference to air's downside: heavy winds that destroy.

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby