Thursday, March 10, 2011

Deep Breath

Deep breaths mean more as you get older, don't they?  Just a minute ago, I took a deep, thoughtful breath as I considered the state of the country since the Tuscon shootings and then the 2012 elections.  I read Sarah Palin's note regarding the "blood libel" and felt proud that she was able to succinctly call a spade a spade and remind us that it's not in the midst of a tragedy that we should throw political stones.  The killer, like so many other killers, was one thing above all else - crazy.  But my deep breath had more to do with the upcoming choices I will have to make as a voter.  I know the man in office was never fit to run our country. I know that just as sure as I know the sky is blue.  But his ineptitude brings up a question that I hate asking and will hate answering even more. Who's going to run?  Will I be forced to vote for anyone but him, or will someone who has the experience, faith and reverence for the job step in to re-inspire America?

I appreciate the work and ideas and energy that the more youthful Americans bring to the world, but you know what? There's no substitute for living longer and knowing more. No substitute for having been there and done that. Diversity is a wonderful thing, and I celebrate it, but I'm a tribal girl at my core; respect for my elders is a basic tenet in the society that lives in my own head. Quite simply, they've had more time in this world than I have,  and I'd prefer my plane to be flown by the pilot with more flight hours as opposed to the one who has seen a lot of planes on the Internet.

My father in law speaks in deep breaths.  When something troubles him and he's asked about it, sometimes all we get is a deep breath and a steady exhalation. My mother does the same thing, especially when there is tension between her kids.  Her deep breaths and sighs have always spoken volumes to me, but it's only now that I'm a parent that I understand the emotion behind the breathing.
When I was young and single, a deep breath was what followed up a round of raucous laughter or a frantic transfer of gossip from my mouth to my cousin Jenn's eager ears. I tried yoga several times, but I got nothing out of the deep, cleansing breaths that are so integral to the practice.  Cleansing breath? I would ask myself.  What the hell is that? I still feel the same as I did before. Where are we going tonight?

Ah, and then the anxiety set in in my late twenties.  Breathing takes on a whole new meaning when you have a tendency to let your nerves play Centipede with your calm. I learned breathing techniques that were downright mathematical in their approach. Helpful? Yes, they were. (

Buy now?  Now, I'm a woman.  You know, like all of you other real women. We're June Cleaver and Martha Stewart and Jillian Anderson and Pink all at the same time. And we've brought little people into the world to watch us juggle these personalities and hopefully take the best from our frantic efforts to be everything to everyone all the time. And I find myself sometimes not having the answers to the questions I get.  Sometimes all I have to offer anyone is a deep breath and the warmed, pensive air that leaves my body as I mull an idea.

What is lightning, Momma?
Why can't I wear lip gloss every day, Momma?
What's for dinner, babe?
Have you sent those thank you notes, Michelle?
When would you like to schedule that appointment, Mrs. Wilson?

All day, every day. Ceaseless. Inconsiderate of my mood or my schedule. And then I have to think, how many questions has my father-in-law answered? My mother? My grandmother with her nine children and nearly 30 grandchildren? How many deep breaths are we talking here? How many fevers and broken bones and near misses and loud days and quiet moments were there? How many times did she feel misunderstood and unappreciated when she was the head of the house - the glue keeping us all together?

I nominate my grandmother for President.  Because even at 74, she's still taking deep breaths and worrying for us - reaching out to us and knowing we'll find our way.