Of our astonishment

October 27, 2011

Every day brings its share of stimuli, enrichment, injury, nervousness, joys, unconscious, mechanical (and sometimes rare voluntary) gestures.

When I had dogs, even further back in the past, I had to be outdoors, four times a day. My gaze lingered on everything and nothing, on my dogs, their droppings, their pleasures, on the walkers, the students who would grumble into knowledge, the workers, the secretaries, the technicians rushing into the insensitive mouth of the subway.

My vision has narrowed somewhat since then. I have swapped the prison of canine necessities for that of the everyday life that passes by. I get up, have lunch with my neighbor (it’s almost a commune in our duplex house), I sit in front of my computer, I look out the window from time to time. I sometimes go to the choir, sometimes I meet friends.

A month ago, however, I promised myself that I would start walking again, "my dog," as suggested by a 19th-century doctor, even if I don’t have one. Walking outside is breathing the sky, also if it is oxygen-depleted, it remains the sky.

I think we too easily forget the importance of our rituals, whatever they may be. To be aware and act on what we do, think, feel is the first duty of the living human being. To become only aware of our breathing, hour after hour, will remind us peacefully and in an almost spiritual way of the power of our existence, of our life, whatever its nature and even whatever its importance.

Don’t we think too often that our lives are not worth much? What do we know if we still hold it dead in our minds? Our place on Earth may not be worth the time we spend on it. However, we are part of a species that takes up a lot of space. We must participate, to enjoy it and to bring our grain of salt, the one that gives so much taste to our dreams. And it is not right to say that we are nothing. We are, and it is already great to be able to be surprised by it.