It is cold today, and it has rained, but now the fog has come and gone, all but a bare trail of cloud trilling its slow fingers over the long outer branches of pine trees, along the edges of roofs. I have been reading today, this weekend, gulping, books with compulsion like junk food, and now it is time to run. I have my old, hundreds-of-miles shoes, and my black wool pants and my black wool shirt and my knitted wool hat and scarf. I am black and edged in bright reds and greens and pinks and my feet take the sidewalk with hunger like brown bread and thick butter and honey.
I have been reading. I have been reading memoirs that are hard for me to read; those in which the protagonist makes choices I have never made, would never make, choices of sex and alcohol and pain. I have been reading these, and I have been reading writers on writing, and I have been reading Facebook and Twitter posts and we all must drink, hard and often and early in the day, Scotch and vodka and tequila and Mexican beer. "...if we didn't have drugs and alcohol, we wouldn't have art," says one memoirist, "I know that is not a popular thing to say but I believe it is true nonetheless."
And, "our drug and alcohol excesses... are also part of who we are as artists."
And I am running. I am not drinking, though it would indeed be a wonderful day to drink and to create if I were that writer, but I am not. Instead I am running, fast enough to make my breath come hard and a little shallow and very cold, and even the shallow breaths are like inhalations of god, or pure single-malt inspiration. I am breathing and what I am getting are words and sparkling descriptions and a rhythm, a shine, a cadence that pulses through me like Tennyson, like Yeats.
As if I am repeating a mantra for birth or for yoga, I breath in the words and I breath out the emotional cloud that has been holding them at bay. I am light-headed, in the sense that my head is no longer heavy with sturm und drang, with the statements of political contenders, with the argument of the days. It floats and flies. I am full of the presence of the divine. It is here I have my Sunday church, here on the bare-but-for-mud pavement, here on the borders of traffic and loud-laughing brunches and hangovers darkening the shades. It is here I find my soul and commune with my fellow worshippers. Here, with the birds, with the winds and the raindrops and the clouds.
I have wondered if I should -- if I should go with the Hemingways and their Parisian cafe-hopping, with the modern memoirists and their expansive afternoon drinking, with the mercurial and mythical father-writers, the fathers of Anne Lamott and John Dunne and all the others? -- should I go then, fill my cup with the expensive bourbon I keep on a top shelf, gulp, expose my teeth in a wince, gulp again, until I do not wince? Should I fill my belly with fire and my soul with intensity, writing until I fall asleep in the couch or the bed between my kicking, mouth-opened boys? Sleep late, wake up drowsy and pounding... of course not. Of course.
But the romance. But the intensity. But the passionate defense! The mystery, the success, the drama of it all!
But no. This is my drink, my drug, my religion, my god: this breath. This one. And this. However shallow or deep, these breaths of fog and mottled winter sunshine and wet pavement and birdsong, these breaths of pounding feet and open hips, these are the fire in my belly and the stir in my soul. I am, breatharian, complete.