I often have short periods where I become fixated with breathing. It usually comes on after watching The Sopranos, where Tony’s heavy respiratory system often gets a starring role, which in turn makes me acutely aware of my own breathing.
How often do you think about the act of breathing? It is an essential process undertaken roughly 6.3 million times a year by the average person, yet most of us are really bad at it, unconsciously choosing short and insubstantial breathes over long, deep, nourishing ones. Moreover, we poke fun at heavy breathers for being deranged, overweight or intoxicated (or if you’re Tony Soprano, all three). Breathing is like life: we do it constantly, think about it seldom and, though doing it well isn’t overly taxing, we mostly opt for fulfilling the minimum requirements just to keep going.
Since commencing this new lifestyle a month ago, I can’t say I’ve been sucking in deep lungfulls of fresh air. In fact this initial period has felt more like one long and wheezy exhale: it hasn’t been painless saying goodbye to job, home, friends and family, but it has been immensely satisfying to dismiss many of the routines and structures from daily life, as if expelling dead air from the very bottom of my system (no laughing at the back). So with eleven months of unabashed deep and healthy breathing to come, it’s time to reflect, and decide what kind of air to breath from here on in.
As with most big changes, it doesn’t feel as different as one expects. Friends are still friends, I’m still corresponding via email and Facebook regularly, daily routine has been replaced with the routine of travel, and this blog has arguably filled the gap in which my work once resided.
However, whilst some structures remain, life has most definitely changed; by commiting to one new challenge every week, I’ve been constantly flailing outside my comfort zone. I make no bones about this, it’s not just the challenge but the timeframe and regularity that is a struggle: a week is a very short time in which to decide upon, do, and write about a new skill or experience. But it has happened, and only a month into MYIF I have thanked my mentors, become a backpacker, developed a healthier relationship with sleep and taken one amazing photo. All in one month. The greatest gift that Flux has given me so far, it seems, is time: it feels elastic, days and weeks extend and my experiences accumulate far beyond where they would have previously.
Novelty is all well and good, but with large-scale change comes anxiety as well. I still have no income nor prospect of developing an income stream anytime soon. I also have absolutely zero idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing when this cycle completes in March 2014. So at least once a day, I’ll say to my wife ‘what the hell am I doing?’, to which she has no answer. This has almost become an incantation, a mantra I am choosing to use positively.
For the time I continue to be unsure of what the hell I’m doing, I know one thing IS certain – rather than hyperventilating on routine and drudgery, I’ll be breathing in everything new life has to throw at me.