I Can’t Breathe

I had a moment today. I felt like the walls were closing in on me and I couldn’t breathe. Not sure if that feeling has a name but it didn’t feel good. I think it was because I really hadn’t spent anytime outside of the house. I know I’ve said it before, but the sun is truly a source of happiness for me. I went outside and laid in the hammock to get some fresh air while I looked up at the sky. There were no clouds in sight. It was just a clear sky. Then I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm myself.

As I slowly opened my eyes, I looked at the lights of the apartments around me, lit in an odd shaped pattern. Some woman was outside smoking with a Coke. I don’t usually like the smell of cigarettes but there was something nostalgic about the scent tonight. I guess maybe because you just don’t see people outside anymore. There’s no one congregating on smoke breaks at their jobs. It’s just an eerie silence.

So, as I’m looking at the lit apartments I start to think about their stories. On the left is an apartment filled with college students, excited to be on break early from school. They have their “illegal” grill on the patio for the occasional barbecue. On the right is a couple both staring at their phones while the TV flickers and the dogs trod lightly around. Maybe they’ve run out of conversational topics.

Next to them is a young boy who stares out the window wondering when he’ll get to see his friends again or start his soccer practice, he signed up for months ago. And then, there’s the woman with the cigarette. She has two sons and a husband. I wonder why she’s smoking. Is she stressed?  Did she lose her job? Does she just need a break from the break? Or does the nicotine have the same effect on her as the Sun does me? Just brings her a little happiness, peace or a sliver of normalcy.

In this moment as the world has just stopped, I hope that we can all just connect like a string of lights. So, when one light is dim, the others can share their light in response. I hope that when we have a good day we can connect and share that light with someone who may be down.

On IG I shared a quote that said “nothing should go back to normal. Normal wasn’t working”. At first, I was perplexed. What was normal? After a few minutes, I realized that normal was always on the go with little regard for time and how precious it is. Many of us treated time like it had a bottomless refill. Filling it with syrupy schedules and to do lists.

Or some with very little regard, taking only a few sips of their $2.99 glass just to push it away. Relinquishing their time, just to focus on how others spent theirs. With the mindless scrolling, dreaming and wishing to be somewhere or someone else. Hmmmm…Wonder what these people are doing now since we are all in the same place.

For me new normal would be for us all to sip from the glass ever so slowly, to savor the time we have been given. Knowing that it is not in fact a bottomless glass. We can not just reflect on the last drink we had or even rely on the future refill. Because the refill is not promised but what is promised is the glass in front of us.

We can cherish the moments we have and be kinder to one another. We can do the things that bring us joy. We can choose to enjoy our drink with those that make us happy. We can choose to fill our glass with a different drink. Instead of our usual selfishness, we can try a cup of humility. Or give up our diet sarcasm for a glass of sincerity.

To make a better world, it all starts with working on ourselves. Now is the time to start.

I love you all and goodnight.


Rida J


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