I took a yoga class awhile back and the instructor opened with "Take a deep breath and breathe in the simplicity of life. Each breath is a new start, breathing lets you know you're alive." In my cancer journey, more than anything I was told I was going to lose (besides my life, of course), breathing on my own was the one I was most scared to be without. I've talked about my singing and speaking, but as much as I would miss my voice, I knew that those were simple compromises. After my first surgery which paralyzed one of my vocal cords, I was in the ICU for a few days to make sure I would be able to breathe on my own. The fear was that the other vocal cord would snap and close off my breathing tube (trachea) and I would need an emergency tracheotomy (tube in my neck). Fortunately, that didn't happen. Each time cancer came back, the threat to my voice and breathing was much worse. The last surgery was the most difficult because the threat was imminent considering the cancer was invading the area around my remaining vocal cord along with my trachea. Despite hours of careful surgery and multiple radiation treatments aimed at my neck, I am still speaking, and breathing on my own.
Breathing is still difficult for me sometimes. I can't 'run like the wind' or do too much aerobic exercise because my vocal cords sit very close together and I simply can't get much air in. If I talk too much too fast (which I'm known to do), I run out of air quickly and have to stop and take deep breaths. If I have allergies or get sick and cough too much, my vocal cords swell up and it gets a little difficult to breathe. Essentially for me, breathing is a miracle and the simple act of taking a breath has become a reminder that I'm alive.
Is life that simple? Maybe. I think we are the ones that complicate things a bit. But the yoga instructor was right, breathing does let us know we're alive and each breath we take is a new beginning with new possibilities. Take a minute and take a deep breath, imagine your life without it, there is no life without it. Thank God for today and the air you breathe.