Beginnings, endings

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Painting by Oliver Shaw, February 2019.  


As I sit before this window where out there the southerly wind is turning the ocean into a soft brown bubbly mess I observe the feeling of life turning through my body.

This morning I watched our family dog gasp for her last breath and as I carried her to the hole that i dug in the sand out front I was surprised how light she felt.

When the breath leaves the body so does the weight of things, somehow, and while the breath remains we are heavy with life, with aliveness.

I have been breathing a-lot lately. I do these two yoga poses three times a day where I draw the breath toward my navel and stretch out that skin, healing the part of my body that was torn up by appendectomy a couple months ago where I came face-to-face with my fear of death. A pathetic fear that turns as a fear of life. I am not sure when I became fearful of life but I’ve always found it pretty shocking. Particularly this being alive inside a kind-of system that seems senseless and strange – one that I have never really ever wanted to enter – so in some ways I have always rejected my citizenship. Never truly made that leap into yes okay here we are in this thing and we’re doing it. I have of course done a-lot of things but underlining those things was this thing. I have preferred the window. Watching the waves come and go. Letting my thoughts come and go. Watching the breath. Life: coming and going.

But that doesn’t matter anymore.

I am only really alive because of this breath thing. This light, unconscious act. This unconscious desire to live, for life. I suck it in and feel it heal my body. I feel it live my body. I suck in the same thing as animals, plants, humans, good an evil: we all share the same thing. The same breath. My breath is your breath. I will honour it while it’s here and I honour all lives, small and big, good and evil. Mostly, I will honour the plants that make it possible to breathe, that are breath: us. And I honour life. And I am thus no longer afraid to live, because, of course, life – living is so much more beauty than a narrative or system. It is the in-between that’s enchanting, and it’s the everywhere that’s beautiful. I’ll live, and make art, for that.

Oliver, May 2019