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Underbelly: 10 Things - Breathe

Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly
#138 in a series of wild and precious observations on breathing

This week I contemplated breathing — literally because our air quality index was 244 yesterday — but mostly metaphorically.
There were a few instances where I was listening to stories of what happens when there is an imbalance of giving and taking in community — and how sometimes this is because of a systemic failure.
I imagined each of us as a cell in our body politic, where, when each cell is healthy, the body is healthy.
When one of us is unwell, a bunch of us can swarm in, holding space, bringing healing necessities, cleaning up a bit, whatever.
Obviously, the same people can’t swarm in all the time. This system requires most of us to be healthy enough so that when occasionally we have to drop everything and care for someone intensely, the body as a whole can rest a bit, recuperate.
The question I had this week was: What happens when the system we live in needs care?
“Democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
“Apparently, we have become such a hyper-individualized culture that it is impossible to develop an argument based on how individual cases fit into the fabric of the common good.”
― David Brooks
“The body politic, like the human body, begins to die from its birth, and bears in itself the causes of its destruction.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
“A nation can survive its fools, even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within….for the traitor appears not to be a traitor…he rots the soul of a nation…he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.”
— Marcus Tullius Cicero
“[…] Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian Question and no Indian Department.”
— Duncan Campbell Scott
3. Prompt
It’s not an easy answer.
When you attempt to become healthier, are you aware of how your health affects your neighbor?
A concrete question from this week involved calling in sick to work. Or when to accept a schedule from work — when it obviously is best for you, or when it is best for those you work for?
Okay — if you assumed I had a passive-aggressive hidden “correct” answer — I don’t. I can count over 10 separate stories that came my way around this issue. Each had mitigating circumstances. If you knew the mitigating circumstances, you likely would bring the gavel down differently than what your first knee jerk verdict was going to be…
How do you know that you are acting in a healthy way if you are swimming in unhealthy water?
4. Quest
It felt like swimming through the thick unhealthy air here yesterday. Luckily I have an air purifier, so once I clued in that I was having difficulty breathing, I closed our windows, turned on the air purifier, and slowly became aware of what it should feel like to breathe.
I think that is a bit why vagal strengthening exercises “work”. They remind of us of what health feels like.
They include:
This week, become aware of your surroundings and consider how healthy they are. Are you able to make good choices about what to do next in your current environment? Can you do the “next right thing” easily or do you often have to do what seems counter to what your environment is telling you to do?
5. Level up
Can you find ways to begin to create a healthy environment for yourself, even when the community at large feels unhealthy?
And maybe this doesn’t apply to you — in which case, keep on breathing!
6. Video
Nap Time for Everyone! (Ep. 468) | Freakonomics Radio with Stephen J. Dubner
Nap Time for Everyone! (Ep. 468) | Freakonomics Radio with Stephen J. Dubner
7. Video
99% Invisible #385 - Shade
99% Invisible #385 - Shade
8. Poem
The Forest for the Trees by Rena Priest - Poems |
9. Hero
Creative Writing | Rena Priest | United States
10. Connect
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Wendy Kelly
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Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly @wendykkelly

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Nelson, British Columbia