How do we Explain the Subtleties of Breathing?

A reported tornado in Middlebury on Friday. Snow this Monday morning. The certainty of unpredictable weather gives me a sense of comfort this early morning. Spring in Vermont. The large evergreens bend in response to the force of the wind. A cow’s protesting moo from the pasture next door fills the cold morning air as I step out to take a photo of the snow blanketing my yard. I embraced the humbling beauty of nature…

I was asked to perform a virtual painting demo at an art center in a neighboring state recently. I was happy for the ask and the work. My second demo in recent weeks. My work is very important to me and sharing what I do is an honor that I do not take lightly. I felt obliged to do right by the people who had given up part of their day to attend.  A week before my scheduled demo date I had a nightmarish dream. I arrived at the art center and realized that I had not brought the paint colors I needed for my planned painting and worse yet when I opened the colors, I did bring they were tubes of glue. I guess I do eat sleep and breathe my work…

I have been painting as I once did. Returning to the art I once created, just feels right. Like that pair of well-worn Levi jeans. Comfortable and genuine. The past many months have given me the opportunity to think about and reassess my own creative direction. The only aspect of the pandemic abyss that I could control. A floral felt like a hopeful demo composition. Spring. I was reasonably comfortable with my demo plan. I am never truly comfortable…

The art center’s virtual set-up was fabulous and professional. My nerves and adrenaline were working hard against me. I am never at ease speaking in front of a group virtual or otherwise. How would I explain to the group the subtleties of breathing?  That is how art feels to me.  I stumbled through my introduction but settled in as the first question was asked despite the presence of the highly respected art director seated to my left. The art center has done an incredible job responding to the pandemic while finding a way to virtually bring art out into the local communities. The work of creatives knows no boundaries.  I started to paint. I began to forget where I was as I relaxed into a world I love. I began to breathe…  

Last Saturday was a beautiful sun filled day. Saturdays currently aren’t so different than any other day of the week but different enough. I basked in the warmth of the previous afternoon’s art demo and the day ahead of me. Sunny in the 50’s. Perfect. An easy run in the morning accomplished. A must. A 2021 inaugural bike ride was just the ticket for the quiet afternoon. Just riding. No real destination. No focus on rpms. Coasting allowed. Simple.  No demand on miles or time. Just cycling. Playing tourist in my own neighborhood. Delightful. A coolness in the air randomly floated up from the pavement as I made my way down the road. Pockets of coolness reminded me of the finishing of one season and the beginning of another. Breathing again…

I passed a friend twice. Both of us uncertain of each other’s identity on the first pass but the second time she called out to me and we stopped for a chat. We hadn’t seen each other in the far too many months despite living in adjoining towns. I felt the flood of time rush over me as I was ecstatic to see her. Our rides were quite different on this Saturday as were our individual experiences over the past year, yet there is a universality to the pandemic experience we all share. We remained separated by the width of the road as we spoke quickly to fit in as much as possible between the cars breezing by us. She had been vaccinated while my first appointment is soon to come.  We agreed to be in touch to schedule a hike as we once easily did. She looked at me with an enlightened gleeful smile and said, “because now we can.” With acknowledgment and what felt like the first truly deep breath in well over a year my shoulders started to relax as did the ever-present suffocating tightness in my chest as I peddled home. Like the daffodils in my garden struggling against the elements this morning there is a confidence that a new season is ushering in…

   “I am a writer. Imagining what someone would say or do comes to me as naturally as breathing.” Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

2 thoughts

Leave a Reply to Lynn VanNatta Cancel reply