Art of Breathing

The Art of Breathing

Today’s picture is not from my camera,  but it is a place I have been to in my mind.  It is the place populated by Willa Cather characters, the big, wide open space of the prairies where everything is possible. 

“It was over flat lands like this, stretching out to drink the sun, that the larks sang — and one’s heart sang there too.” ~The Song of the Lark (Willa Cather)

And here is one of my favorite passages from Cather’s My Antonia: 

Years afterward, when the open-grazing days were over, and the red grass had been ploughed under and under until it had almost disappeared from the prairie; when all the fields were under fence, and the roads no longer ran about like wild things, but followed the surveyed section-lines, Mr. Shimerda’s grave was still there, with a sagging wire fence around it, and an unpainted wooden cross.  As grandfather had predicted, Mrs. Shimerda never saw the roads going over his head.  The road from the north curved a little to the east just there, and the road form the west swung out a little to the south; so that the grave, with its tall red grass that was never mowed, was like a little island; and at twilight, under a new moon or the clear evening star, the dusty roads used to look like soft grey rivers flowing past it.  I never came upon the place without emotion, and in all that country it was the spot most dear to me.  I loved the dim superstition, the propitiatory intent, that had put the grave there; and still more I loved the spirit that could not carry out the sentence — the error from the surveyed lines, the clemency of the soft earth roads along which the home-coming wagons rattled after sunset.  Never a tired driver passed the wooden cross, I am sure, without wishing well to the sleeper. 

Wherever you are today, I hope your heart sings.

P.S.  The Art of Breathing is posted every Sunday with the intent of giving us a little breathing space (something to give us pause) via a photo or image.  If you have a photo/image you would like to post for this segment, please send to Karma (dddale at wustl dot edu).  You are welcome to submit words with your photo, but if you just want to submit a photo that is fine too, afterall, a picture is worth a thousand words.


14 thoughts on “

    • I am so glad you liked it. Goodness, you are up early. Probably just like the pioneers 🙂 Btw: My boot camps still remains to be done. ~Karma

  1. Thanks for sharing! I live in that land you describe and it’s nice to have a reminder to appreciate what I was so enthused about when I first came west nearly 20 years ago. Too often we curse our surroundings and complain about the obvious when we should really step back and embrace the beauty. The harsh elements of the environment sometimes make me forget the nostalgia and beauty of the old west. Given your post, you might enjoy my tribute to the sandhills in an old post I did. The link is here:

    Have a great day!

    • You know what’s funny, when I started writing this post, I didn’t have anything even remotely like this planned, but then it just came out. Probably a lot of bloggers experience the same thing. You are so right about cursing our surroundings – I do that all the time – and yet Missouri is really beautiful. Your post about the sandhills of Nebraska was beautiful. I cried while reading it. Today I strive for simplicity in the midst of a complicated world. Thanks for sharing. ~Karma

  2. Janet, I love how you said you had to stand back and appreciate where you live. I was raised in Utah and was so embarassed to tell anyone that was where I am from. This has inspired me to really be proud of where I am from because Utah is truly Beautiful. Thanks!

    Karma, I love the breathing posts. I have actually taken this to a different level. Sometimes when my patients arrive they are rushing,frantic and apologizing for running late. I have stopped them in their tracks and said ” hey, it is okay. Just breathe. They actually take a breath and I can see an instant change in their world, even if it is only for 30 seconds.

    • Dana, You’re up early too. I agree, I think Utah is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Think about those mountains that raise right up out the earth from what appears to be not more than a mile from anywhere you are and think about those beautiful red rock mountains. I am so glad you have been able to help your patients – goodness 30 seconds of breathing can change your attitude, your mind, maybe even the world.

  3. Hi, I’m back and have missed you all. I have been on vacation and yesterday was my 1st day back to work and oh my, what a reality check that was! I’ve been trying to go back to see all the days I have missed and it looks like I am really behind. BOOT CAMP how scary, exciting and motivating all in one small package. Looking forward to getting back on track. I’m quite lost right now just having come off vacation however my biggest problem is that right before I left I injured my back and had a hard time talking my doctor into even letting me go. He said ok but put restrictions on me. NO EXERCISE what so ever in fact he told me I couldn’t even walk on the beach unless it was just to walk down to the water. The sinking in the sand would put too much pressure on my back. Soooooo…long story short..all I could do was eat, drink and be merry, which I did very well. Now the downside….I’m ashamed to admit that my doing nothing except eat, drink, and be merry, I gained 14lbs…..How incredibly embarrassing!!! I have been back to the doctor since I returned however he still will not let me do any exercising in fact I can’t even walk in the neighborhood. I am trying to obey him even though it is tough and am hoping by middle of this week when I see him again he will lift some of my restrictions. It’s amazing and depressing to me how quick my body has lost its firmness, muscle whatever you call it and become mushy. Add the weight gain and YIKES what a mess I am. The beauty in all this is the motivation I already received from reading all the days I missed. So my friends, I will be reaching out to you and slowly but SURELY get right back into my saddle right along side of you all. Looking forward to that day. Many thanks!!!!

    • Welcome come back, Diane!! We have missed you so. I am so sorry to hear about your back, Jimmy, is totally with you on the back problems and it is so frustrating. I am glad you were able to eat, drink, and be merry, despite the bad back, while on vacation. You deserve a little rest and it sounds like you still had fun. And, you know what? Once the doctor releases you, I promise, you will regain everything very quickly. It won’t be the same uphill as last time. There will still be a hill, no doubt, but it will be less steep, shorter, and you will be able to climb with more speed.

      In the meantime, what might help you is to be sure that you use discipline with eating and drinking (as long as I have some discipline in my life, other things seem to fall into place). Do all your portion control things, only healthy foods, and lots and lots of water and you will probably see a huge difference just from that – and that will make you happy – and when you are happy the whole world is happy. We really are glad you’re back. Hope work isn’t too busy this weekend. O’s. ~Karma

  4. A beautiful literary reference, and to me a landscape of possibility and longing. Just wanted to say that T-unit and I completed the boot camp over two days, and I am beat. It gave me an awesome sense of accomplishment. I am proud that we did this by own freewill, but also knowing that others shared our struggle to complete the bootcamp made it easier to finish. However, now all the lifting at work later on in the hot sun is seeming less and less appealing….

  5. Bobby Digital – you know I love you (I can say that, he’s my son) and you too T-unit. I was so hoping you would see this post today because I knew you would like it.

    I am also proud of you two. Boot Camp is hard this weekend (I guess that’s the point, but yikes!). I am just now getting to my planks, wall squats, squats, and push ups. I think you are right that it is better when you do this of your own free will, because then you know that you have a toughness about you and that you can do anything you set your mind to – like Antonia. I hope the bags and flights are light today.

  6. Oh, I forgot to say, I went to Zumba today. Our regular instructor was not there, but the new instructor, Sabrina, was fantastic. Her Zumba routine was completely different from Stacy’s, so it was a good brain and body challenge to do moves that were SO different (much more urban/hip hop in flavor). The room was very humid to begin with and by the end of the hour I was a hot mess. I did my 300 jump ropes after class.

    Btw – When I was setting the boot camp challenge for us, I kept asking Jimmy, “Do you think this is too much”, and he kept saying, “No, it’s a challenge, it’s supposed to be tough”. I wish I hadn’t listened to him 🙂

  7. Yes I was telling Darla that it was a challenge, and we could do the boot camp. So when I got out of bed on Friday my ankle was sore, and I have no idea why it was sore. We still went for a run on Fri and Sat, and by the time today rolled around I had one sore ankle, that was like walking around the block to get next door way of saying, no boot camp or any exercise for me today just TJ’s. This is a great post, I remember when we moved to St Louis, I was driving from Calif by myself, Darla was in Kenya, to find us a house, and when I entered MO I have never seen so much green, and so many trees it was great.

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