Help (me).

by tobias crabtree

Lately, how many times have you picked something up to read it and then put it down when it doesn’t say what you need it to say? If you are me, and I am, it happens a whole lot. So that is not what I want to happen here in this bit of writing.

When speaking of beliefs, there’s what you believe and then there’s everything else that doesn’t jive with your heart, or in other words, everything else that is wrong. I struggle with this. I sometimes climb up on my high horse so far that I can’t even see the heads of the ignorant peasants far below.

I’ve been exploring inside my heart lately. Mean-heartedness and righteousness are not really a good mix when it comes to communication.

I’ve always believed in this whole breathing thing. You know, like, if you don’t breathe, it’s tricky to stay alive. So I’ve latched onto that — Breathing. We all do it. I’m not even being sarcastic (for once), I really do believe breathing and what it does for me.

I went home to see my Mama. She got her knee changed out. My folks have grown old and I saw it this last time home. I spent some nights in bed thinking about not having them anymore. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not dead yet, but life’s wear and tear was obvious to me as I sat and talked with them. I worked on Mom’s back, felt her old bones, rubbed her stove up shoulder and massaged her feet while she closed her pretty eyes and smiled just a tiny bit. We talked about breathing and I showed her some exercises that have helped me rehab my back and neck.

Sit up straight. Breathe into the high chest. Spread the ribs. Keep the spread and breathe out through the belly, be strong and tall, use the air to stretch the cage.  5 full breaths to start. Chin in and crown to the sky. 

I was saying these things over and over to my Dear One. It’s tough to get old folks to change, but my Ma did it and felt better. I went back and went over it all with her again. I called her every day and asked if she had done her breathing. She answered yes, and that it made her feel taller. I still check in and she’s still practicing the routine I set out for her. What a cool ol’ gal! My sweet Mother has always loved her flowers, she’s a perennial herself.

My parents and I do not see eye to eye on a lot of things. We do not. That doesn’t change a thing when it comes to me wanting to reduce the pain and suffering in their lives. This is good for me to understand. It’s really important. There is a greater application to this —  Breathing is a starting point for us all.

I got hit by a car the other day when I was running. City runs have their own elemental dangers, just as mountain runs might. I choose mountain runs any day over the city, but sometimes I’m stuck in town for work. I went around a corner, a driver wanted to get somewhere faster, they illegally turned and got me from the side as I was turned watching for traffic in the other direction. I bumped up on the trunk of the car and did a kind of roll. The car’s brakes squealed. The driver hunkered down and sped off with nary a peek in the rearview.  I spun off the back and landed on my feet facing the opposite direction, mad as a cornered cat. I let out a long string of curse words in between attachments to political affiliations as I scampered off.  None of what I said made a damn bit of sense, but I was in a little rage and I was gonna say what I felt like saying. My rump was bruised, and my ego, but that was it. A fella in a city truck pulled up as I ran, his window came down and he asked if I was ok. This surprised me and pulled me outa my innerverse of lightning and lava. I told him, yeah. He shook his head and said, “People, man.” I answered, yeah, people. I finished my run. By the end, my thoughts had returned to my breathing. Ribs expanding. The sky coming in.

Opposition is a kind of darkness. Two sides that cannot be separated (and we can’t be separated because we are all in this world, like it or not) are in a room together and the darkness or blindness descends. We take our beliefs, like baseball bats in the dark, and begin swinging with all our might. Sooner or later, if we don’t create some light, we’re gonna get hurt. So, how to find light?

I’ll tell you where I find light, but you must look for it yourself and in your own way. I find light when I put my arm around my kid brother as he is talking about the geese flying between the pines and I feel the drone of his voice through his rawbone ribs. I find light when I follow that one path, just north of San Francisco where the grass is chest high and the smell of meadow and the clack of the yellow-winged grasshoppers and the color of the dirt all combine to reduce me to the smallest soul on a spinning world. I find light in the tops of the coastal Cypress trees when the wind is screaming in off the Pacific and I am hanging on for this dear life. I find it in the sticky old shoulder of my Mother, while I work my fingers under her scapula and tug and hear my Mama’s lovely whimper as old pain leaves her body. I find light in the heart of my buddy, Foster, as he feeds the feral, 3 legged cat that he couldn’t help but save because, behind his scarred up fighter face, there is an ocean of thoughtfulness.

A friend recently pointed out that cynicism is a closed circle, that it feels good but leads to nowhere. I’ve noticed a ton of cool cynicism lately. It’s like our culture is promoting it. It bums me out because I kinda always thought that it was my jam, what’s up with everyone horning in on my act? I’ve decided to cut back. Rather than being cynical, I’m trying to be an observant student. I want to be a good animal. I want the earth to be stoked to receive me when I turn back to dust. I think I’ll start with breathing and moving and looking for light.



Note: I rarely dispense this kind of knowledge in my writing, but this has really made a difference for me, a couple of my buddies, and my Ma.  It’s just a suggestion so don’t think I’m a doctor or  a warlock or a sooth-sayer. It’s just good (and free, which is great). It’s mostly breathing. If you have pain in your body, give “decompression” breathing a try. It has helped me stay in motion. Doesn’t matter your age or fitness level, it will help. This ain’t an infomercial, I just think it’s good to reduce suffering and clear the mind so we can all see one another. You know, like, get outa the dark. There are places to find instruction (like youtube– Eric Goodman). Free info. Another such place is the Instagram of  Shane Cuppett @foundationshane. I don’t know him at all but his info is solid and there are examples like the stuff I shared with my Mama. 

Ok there, that felt kinda weird but whatev’s. I’m kinda weird too. Basics will help us find a way through the dark.