Breathing deep

There won’t be any pictures today. I have been digitally lazy, and besides, I don’t think I could show what I’m trying to express.

I am, essentially, a torn person. And I’m learning that I’m happy that way. Maybe “wholeness” for me means embracing twoness. I am happy knowing that my existence (in terms of family and friendship) is firmly rooted in two continents. I’m equally happy split between urban and rural. When I’m in the city, I am a city person, rarely missing the country. And when I’m in the country, I feel that the people who live here full-time live according to the best kept secret. (Shhhh. It’s better here.)

In the city, I am overwhelmed and filled up by the genius of humans to coexist and to inspire each other to create bridges to a future that didn’t seem possible. I love the hustle and bustle and the constant drive. I love the machine that throbs at the heart of it. I love the fermentation of ideas—the bubbling up of creativity and the fact that the city reinvents itself over and over again.

In the country, I am conversely filled up by silences. By a heavenly lack of pretension. By the heady perfume of nature in place of the cloying persistence of other people, no matter how brilliant they are or profess to be.

In both places there is a way of breathing deeply, of pulling it all into yourself, and then…of disappearing in the process. Losing yourself into what each has to offer.

When I come to the country, though, particularly in the summer, I have an experience that is profound for me. It involves deep breathing, but not mine. Here, I can feel the earth breathing. If I stand very still, I can feel eddies of air, like water currents, brushing past each other. Warm and cool, intermingling then separating and sweeping around me.

Behind our little place is a vast uncultivated field and stretching up the hill from it as far as you can see are fields of grain, sunflower, rapeseed, rising up toward an elevated horizon marked by the lone tree or copse. Last night, the earth literally heaved a sigh of relief at sundown. And the lovely breath exhaled wafted down that hill and all around us.

Day turns to evening latish this time of year—at nine or ten there is still light—and yet the day has turned from warmth to “coolth.” An undeniable shifting down. A slowing. A gentle breathing all around. The earth exudes a perfume of dirt and exhaling leaves. Coolness swirls around you. The labors of the day are laid to rest. It is beautiful.

When I am back in the city thinking the city is the place to be, I will be missing this. In the city, the night just brings a different challenge to your energy, and you hope to wake in the morning with enough energy to start again. In the country, day falls like a gentle giant, releasing a mist which fills your lungs deep with new life for tomorrow.

I love that.

Have you experienced it before?

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20 Responses to Breathing deep

  1. Diane says:

    Thank You,I feel so refreshed!
    I have felt those exact same feelings in the country.
    In the city(Chicago),I am always longing for more nature and a slower pace.

  2. The word i believe is bucolic – though the sound of that word in no way expresses the space and wholeness of the country like you just did.. c

    • Oh damn! I love the word bucolic and it didn’t even dawn on me to use it! Thank you for lofting it into the conversation where it belongs! I was so obsessed with the breathing sensation which absolutely bowls me over…I know you experience it al the time, and as I was writing, I was thinking, “I bet Cecilia and Linda could describe this so much better…”

  3. dayphoto says:

    You wrote it perfectly! I, too, love feeling the earth breath and having the air of the heavens swirl around me and through me. As for the city…I rarely get to go there. I do agree, cities are teaming life…all human made and just as divine.


  4. Seasweetie says:

    I spent yesterday in the Pawnee Grasslands, hearing the wind literally move through the rushes, and listening to the openness of the sky. Today, I am in downtown Denver, as I am most weekdays, and it feels claustrophobic. That energy of which you speak, of humans coexisting to build bridges towards a future not even thought possible, is not tangible here. It’s more of an every-man-for-himself-feeling, and very opposed to nature. I far prefer the unifying strength that I find emerging from the earth in uninhabited places to the destructive and greed-inspired energy I personally find in this city. I don’t mean for that to sound as negative as it does, but I’ve been feeling exceptionally sensitive to the way we are overdeveloping the beauty of Colorado these days.

    • Did you see the article and the video in the New shirk Ztimes today about the massive city the Chinese want to build called Jing Jin Ji? It will comprise three existing cities joined into one, will have the surface area of Kansas and will have 130 MILLION inhabitants. It made me sick. My 15 year old daughter was HORRIGIED. That, I would hate and represents something very scary to me.

      • Seasweetie says:

        To me as well. My daughter and I were discussing China and its “ghost cities” on our recent road trip. This sounds like a ghost city come terrifyingly to life. I have a hard time understanding how we will ever sustain ourselves on this lovely little orb of an Earth, at the rate we are going. I’ll look for the article, and share it with my daughter tonight.

    • I just googled the Pawnee a Grasslands. OMG. Yes. I think I was actually there on a road trip with my parents a very long time ago…what an amazing place. The sounds and the silences must be intoxicating. How could it not, in the end, be a spiritual experience!

  5. Debra Kolkka says:

    I know exactly how you feel. I love my life here in the city in Brisbane, but I miss my beautiful mountain house in Italy. I can’t wait to stand on my terrace and take in the ever changing view, listen to the sounds of he forest and smell the fresh air. I have other things to love…our village apartment on the river and the beach where I grew up with white sand and surf. Luckily I can do all of these things in turn.

  6. Gerlinde says:

    I can relate to what you wrote , it’s beautiful and I can identify with it. The breathing in my life is the ocean, the ebb and flow, rising and falling of waves on the beach next to my home. It is like my life, rising , falling, coming and going. I had three lives, one of them now has gone because my mother passed away in December. No more rural village in Germany. Now I’m left with the mountain and the ocean, both of which I dearly love. Thank you Charlotte, your writing is beautiful .

  7. marmepurl says:

    As a person who lives 2-3 days a week on the 12th floor of a city building and the rest of the week on a farm in a beautiful valley….I get it.

  8. Charlotte, you’ve described a feeling that most of us have had and yet been unable to put into words. The pictures are forgotten and not needed. It’s the middle of the afternoon here and what was needed was a break. A simple yet profound chance to lift my head up from my tasks and breath. Just breath. Thank you for taking me on a journey back to the country and the sweetness of a summer’s night. I’m reminded of evenings when I was young mixed with nights more recent. Bittersweet yet beautiful.

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