I would like to begin simply, simply standing in place, on my own two feet, some sense of center, breath in and out. I look to my surroundings, colors, the light, the temperature and the smells. And then I look across the way, whatever way that might be, and I see you, well as much of you as I can. We’re creating an atmosphere together, full of gravitas…. or is it light hearted? Not exactly, how can it be, in this somewhat…. unnatural situation?
Not true exactly. I can feel it as a breeze on my face or when someone whispers in my ear, simple things like that. But more complicated things - what is it made up of, where is it coming from, what does it need? - that’s where I’m lacking, at a loss. It’s hard for me to connect to…. air abstractions.
I feel much more connected to earth as my element. As I mentioned, two feet, standing, feet on the ground, walking in path ways over things, terra firma, digging in the dirt, seeing things rooted…a sense of belonging, visible shapes and configurations I can hold on to, I like gravity. But air….
It carries so many things that I don’t know about or can’t control, falling out of the skies, out of the blue. I’m accumulating a list: spores, germs, airborne pathogens of all sorts, hail storms, falling braches, air raids and drones, jet fighters, dust storms, ball lightening, greenhouse gases, nuclear fall out and of course… the butterfly affect, just to name a few.
As an antidote I try to remember things that I love about air… I remember again the wind on my face, especially at the beach, or in the woods on a spring day, body surfing in the big waves, waves directed by air currents and the tides, songs and sounds coming across the wire, the smell of gardenia and air travel when I am suspended between places and everything seems possible.
But these things that I love about air, and want to continue to love, are now contributing to even more unease. I’m afraid that they are in jeopardy…..that they’re going to disappear….where?…..into thin air. The idea of disappearing into thin air comes more and more into my view. This is odd, things that are disappearing are coming more into view? I will let that drift by….
You see?... air perplexes me, it plays me like a trickster.
I need to come back to the body, return to my breath, in and out. will you breathe with me? yes, good, expanding and contracting, the rise and fall of it all, working through the diaphragm, enlarging the lung capacity, letting go of your fears and anxieties, (begin beating on the chest)….staying present to the moment.
I’m in the moment, I think I’m in the moment - are you with me? noticing all the other breaths in the room making air with every exhalation, animation, animus, anima, spirit air…. we’re floating, getting in touch with the cosmos (hat off)
but a dark cloud comes into in my little spirit drift, that’s what I started to call it. an accumulating cumulus cloud of questions: am I getting the maximum amount of oxygen, what about all the pollutants, do I really understand the apparatus of breathing? I’ve had so many different therapies and trainings about breath, many of them contradictory. what if I’ve been breathing incorrectly all along? is that what causes my sinus difficulty and other imperfections in my body, well in my life?
here I am: smack back in the middle of air anxiety. I’m close to calling it a phobia now.
I’ve read somewhere that there’s a phobia called anemophobia- fear of air drafts or wind, also called ancraophobia, draftophobia, related to the fear of losing personal identity,
quote:” the fear of losing control is often at the heart of air-related phobias. like all-weather phenomena, the wind is beyond our control.” those who fear losing control of their lives and surroundings may be at an increased risk for air-related phobias”. end quote.
is that me? am I part of that group. where is air taking me?
Now I’m really rattled, completely out of my element. Maybe there are affinity groups I can contact that can help me in this newly diagnosed condition.
I take to the ether. Typing away on my computer, sending out messages, hands on the keys like a divining rod looking for connection, (hand vibration) for those people or groups out there who will educate me, reassure me. I’m energized, could even say ‘inspired’ (inspirare back to the breath) I’m going to find solutions and like minds.
(take cards out of breast pocket)
http.www.air.com: Air (also sometimes called Wind) is often seen as a universal power or pure substance. Its fundamental importance to life can be seen in words such as aspire, inspire, perspire and spirit, all derived from the Latin spirare
It’s a perplexing — yet apparently increasing — trend. As sea ice continues to melt in the Arctic, passageways are opening for certain animals — heretofore restricted by the ice — to start moving through, enabling them to cross into new territories.
In the spring of 2010, a lone gray whale was spotted off the Mediterranean coast of Israel, an event that sparked international interest for an important reason: It was the first North Atlantic sighting of a gray whale, a species nowadays restricted to the Pacific Ocean, in about 200 years. . And a sub-Antarctic fur seal was discovered off the coast of Kenya , more than 100 miles farther north than the species had ever been seen before.
Where were you on November 11, 2015? on that day, we sailed past a carbon milestone of perhaps geological scale. With CO2 levels above 400 ppm, atmospheric carbon in our era is now higher than it’s been in at least one million years—and perhaps in 25 million years. Carbon dioxide and other human-generated heat-trapping gases act like a steroid in the atmosphere, injecting extra heat into weather systems and increasing their potential to achieve new extremes.
In July, a town in Iran registered values of heat and humidity so extreme that the heat index — the metric used to convey what such a combination feels like — could not be reliably computed.
In October, fueled in part by record- warm waters boosted by one of the strongest El Niños on record, the eastern Pacific’s Hurricane Patricia became the strongest hurricane ever measured in the Western Hemisphere, with peak winds of 200 mph.
Tip of the iceberg, right as rain, snowed under, break the ice, one’s heads I the clouds, I don’t have the foggiest idea, get wind of, windfall, long winded, greased lightening, scud cloud, airing out our problems
OK now I’m exhausted and depleted. All this surfing through cyberspace takes the wind out of my sails. Too much internet noise, aggressive sound bites and no real connections. TMI, DOA, BBC, LBJ, SOS, EPA, BLT and not enough LOL
I am drifting big time now and I can’t hold onto anything. If I had more time, more down to earth time, maybe I could absorb something, be touched by air.
TURNING TO STRATA
I’ve heard that turning in another direction is a good step when everything around you becomes overwhelming, do you know that feeling? … an overload of too many questions, random images coming at you like hand grenades relentlessly thrown through, what else, the air. A sudden raid of black birds flying in from every direction, you try and run for cover but there’s no shelter you can get to on time. Oh my god, I’ve never gotten over Hitchcock’s the Birds, that was probably the beginning of my air anxiety. Or maybe it all started with the DTD being sprayed while the ice-cream truck went through the neighborhood. 1950’s, I’m dating myself. Or the time when a thick viscose usually yellow or green vapor fog creeps in out of nowhere, covering all the streets, making mobility impossible. An old lady can’t get back to her house. The neighborhood is afraid.
(Go towards audience, then backing up) I’m afraid. Will you take my hand? No I forgot, things that have fallen into your hands might catapult into mine and I could catch whatever you have or what you are going to get and that would be a problem. We don’t want problems, new pathogens coming between us. But hey why don’t we just throw our fates to the wind. The room spins, you take my breath away… for today….
But we know realistically that can’t last. We’re back to ground zero, how did we get here? Where do we go from here? Let’s review the steps that brought us here.
#1 Breath of course #2 pursuing some random currents, check #3 confession of fears, can’t avoid those #4 research follow up check check, naming a few things, and #5, imagining the cosmos, well a little bit.
to the right)That little bit drift takes me to layer and from there I go to strata, a specific word I can hold onto. I riff into substrata, geological time, geology of course affected by weather, and that, in turn, takes me to layers of the atmosphere: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere. Earth and air have come together in dialogue in layers and I am in love, on a roll.
From this new romance with strata, I begin to create a system built on a layer upon layer reality where we can put things into a (hand on hip to left) reasonable sequence of events, cause and effect. But as I do, I’m taking about a possible we, begin to ask: Is there only one sequence of events that can be recognized?
Does the system we are imagining get fixed (fist pound) and become a belief system? And if so, who will benefit from the beliefs? Who are the performers in it?
Is it a visible strata or a hidden substrata system with limited access, who can actually see it or understand it? (hand to brow)
More to the point, once we’ve created a strata system can we ever change it, the economics pin us down, cooperation becomes impossible in the stratified structure, orders can’t be reimagined, or if cooperation can happen it can only happen in pockets, like air pockets. Can these pockets become a new organizing principle? I doubt it. (throw paper to ground)
I’m spinning again, and not in the good way. I can’t even catch my own drift. My head turning in space, looking for connection across the way. But it’s all disappearing into thin air, Lightening and thunder, another storm of the century.
I walk down to my garden, after the storm, the terrain has changed like it always does after a downpour… new little rivulets like capillaries in the landscape and small piles of debris in unexpected places. I admire the plant formations – I like to call them neighborhoods –bleeding hearts, forget me nots, lilies of the valley, the astillbes. The tenacity and flexibility of these plants, the way they keep adapting, never ceases to amaze me.
Some plants have been carried here by my will, others are volunteers. And many have come to the garden airborne, brought by the birds, or carried fiercely by the wind, a seed carried fiercely makes a landing in a new place, if it’s lucky, burrows into ground, watered by rain that maybe 3,000 years ago was part of the sea. The images keep coming: condensation, transpiration, a continual recycling from ocean or ice to rain then root coming through the leaves as vapor released into atmosphere. I am overwhelmed, in a good way, with the orchestration of relationship and it all seems divine to me in that moment.
While I am in awe looking out over this landscape, a plane from Westover Air force base flies overhead. (take coat off and hang on podium). Me and my garden are miniscule, we don’t count in this air force stratosphere. I want to shake my fists to the skies but I can’t; I’m caught in another balancing act. The miracle of air travel has been a godsend, let’s us go easily from one end of the earth to another. I can fly to the Australia, in 20 hours more or less. I love the detachment, I’ve mentioned this before. But the detachment, like drones, is not always a good thing. When I’m released into air, who takes care of my garden?
NEED TO ASK OTHERS
I’m at a standstill, no gentle breeze to carry me.
Maybe I should just let go of any expectation or affiliation.
No, no I still want connection.
Just take another step, I start walking, now walking down the street dreaming up new strategies. That’s it, strategize, not stratify. I need to try a different approach – live bodies, that’s it. I’ll ask others, people I know and strangers included, …ask them about their experiences with air.
“Excuse me, I’m conducting an informal experiment about the atmosphere we live in. Can I ask you for your first response to the word air?” He lets out a big sigh of disbelief, I feel like a pollutant in his atmosphere. A person who had overheard my question yelled out ‘air feeds fire’. I hadn’t thought of that, I’m re-energized I can keep going.
(into the audience- ask 3 or 4 people)
Excuse me….no longer thinking of myself as a pollutant more like an agent of change. Can you give me the first words that come to mind when you think of air? Or atmosphere?
The responses reassure me, convince me, we’ve got to do something important with all the data. My sense of mission is ignited. I’m going to make a documentary, world-wide on the web, a thousand voices of air, an air symphony, choreography for the skies. Our voices will be heard. We’ll control the airwaves create our own weather systems, nature be damned. I am finding myself exalted above it all, I realize this could be dangerous but I’m swept up in my own aspirational current. That’s it. First a documentary and then a major motion picture.
You are looking at the opening shot for a new film, After Air. We are in the midst of a thick fog, zero visibility. The camera moves slowly through the vapor as it starts to rise, bring in huge wave like sound. We see two figures, silhouettes in the distance, a man and a woman. Camera comes in closer and the figures begin to lift off the ground. We are airborne. We then go POV to one of the figures who is looking down at something that looks like earth, cut to the eyes of the other, crying, tears flood to waters, the screen is filled with a torrential downpour, floods, tsunamis. No, turn it off I don’t want to make that disaster film.
ENDING: AT THE BEACH
In moments like this I take to the beach to try and clear my head.
I’m in the elements and the first thing I notice is the air on my face, the smell of salt water, the sound of the tide coming in and out. I look across the way and I see an old woman further down the beach, she looks like the one I remember from the neighborhood. She’s standing there looking out to sea looks like she’s holding something in her hands. She then raises her hands, is she shaking her fists to the skies I wonder. No she opens her hand, she’s letting go of something, it looks like dust, maybe it is ashes.
In that moment, I know I have to let go, let go of my attachments, my air anxiety, the things I can’t control. Soon enough someone’s hand, if I’m lucky, will open to the sky and let my ashes drift into air, part of the atmosphere.