It seems like the world is falling apart—literally—and I’m having trouble breathing. Earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, terrorism, and refugee crises are devastating the world. Along with many international governments, the U.S. government is broken. People around me are growing more hopeless by the day that society will ever change and are expressing it through what seems like an endless chain of protests that are rattling the wrong people. I’ve never been very good at handling chaos. I internalize everything and forget to let myself breathe when I’m busy consuming the world’s problems. When I don’t get enough oxygen, everything seems hopeless, and deep breathing becomes even more challenging … I think I need to take out the garbage—early tomorrow morning.
I discovered a place where I could breathe several years ago. It was around 4:30 in the morning. I was taking some stuff out to the recycle bin at the end of the driveway. There was nobody around. Nobody on the road in front of my house to disrupt the quiet landscape of my life. Nobody to deliver the bad news of the day. It was just me and the soothing hum of frogs who were blissfully unaware of tragedy, terrorism, racism, and the state of politics. On my way back to the house, the brightness of the moon sliver caught my attention and made me stop. I stared up into the sky. The stars danced as they flickered around the moon in a way that felt familiar. I recognized that same moon and star pattern from a perfect night of my childhood … and a wave of peace washed over me.
When I was a child I used to lie on a trailer in my yard and gaze heavenward at the night sky while pondering my future. I saw good things. The light of the moon in the black sea of stars was the beacon for my messages concerning what I wanted from life. Constellation names were unknown to me at the time, but I knew that the stars were predictable and I found comfort in their patterned existence. As the quiet night wrapped me in a blanket of peace, the reliable stars always spelled a message to me that my life was going to turn out well.
When I took my garbage out on that early morning years ago when my life had been under the relentless attack of change, I looked up and realized that the sky had remained the same all those years since I first started casting my thoughts upward. As I became aware of this, I stood in the middle of my dark driveway, closed my eyes, and I inhaled the hope lingering in the air around me as I remembered to breathe.
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© 2017 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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