Somewhere Else on the Planet
As I sit, thinking to read my book in my bed before sleep, I am suddenly conscious that in other places all over this planet, on this marbled globe, this earth, my home, at least several million others are sitting on a bed or a cot or a pile of rags or a rolled out blanket or pillows or whatever they have or use for a bed, thinking to read before sleep.
As I take this pencil and this small piece of paper and turn my book over to act as a prop for my writing, thinking I will now write out in words what has just occurred to me, I am aware, once again, that all over this earth on which I live and that I call my home, in millions and millions of other places on this globe, others take up what they have or use to write or ink or paint, along with a small bit of whatever they have or use to write or ink or paint or etch upon. And then take up their pencil or pen or brush or stick or blade, and begin to set down their thoughts. I am not alone. I am so not alone. Though my room is empty of human life but for me, I am very much not alone.
I lift a foot to walk. It is how I do it. How I move upright. How I step. Or climb. Or run. Or jog, or shamble, or stumble, or jump or race. It starts always with one foot. Living here on this moving globe, hurtling 'round the sun, I move forward, lifting first one foot followed then by the other. Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot. And I am stopped in mid-step by the same thought. As I lift my foot to step forward, how many others all around and all over this planet, are lifting a foot at the exact same nano-second? -- Down comes my foot. And millions of other feet come down too. I am not alone.
I blink. How many other eyes flick closed then open, in blinks all around and over this globe. And then I swallow, gulp, sip water. Water, ha, water. Precious not just to me. To all seven billion-plus humans. And to how many more creatures? Fish, spiders, birds, worms, reptiles, insects? And to all trees, plants, molds, fungi, blossoms? - Growing, living, breathing, water-desperate others? I am not alone. I am so not alone.
I am not alone, disconnected, solitary, separate, single, individuated. No. That great commonality, air, knits us together in all of life's endless regular desperate - in, out, in, out, in, out -- need for and sharing of air. Air. Plain-speak for earth’s atmosphere. Provider, preserver of mortality. Grand commonality of life. Of being. Air.
Now, right now, I take a breath, I breathe in. I must do. I must. And you, as you read this. You breathe in. You must do. You must. In. And out. And in. And out. Like a huge organ, pumping air. All of life. Right along with you. With me. So that as I breathe in and they breathe out, or as I breathe out and they breathe in, who breathes whose breath? Do you and I breathe each other in and out, in and out? Who is not breathing the breathes of another? Of all others? All. All do. All of us. We must.
So it is that the air I pull in, is air that has passed through all other living life on this planet. From the tree to the stream to the shark to the toad to the teacher I see across the road to the infant in my sisters arms to the stalker in the alley to the mustang on the range - I breathe them in and they breathe me out. I breathe them out, they breathe me in. I am not alone. I am so not alone.
How many others is this? - Just in human terms? - Sitting, swearing, squatting, sweating, stooping, staring, sleeping, squinting, sighing -- surviving? On this globe that circles the sun, endlessly, endlessly. -- The count on the morning on March 13, 2012 was seven billion, one hundred and ninety eight million, two hundred and twenty-six thousand, one hundred and seventy two (7, 198, 226, 172), and in the time it took me to type that number in and catch and correct three typos and then pull back up that place on the internet where the counting clock is constantly ticking, to check again on the number? In that very short time? The number grew to seven billion, one hundred and ninety eight million, two hundred and twenty-six thousand, two hundred and thirty seven... eight, nine, ten - two hundred and forty three... four, five ------ and now it’s 7, 198, 227, 050. Almost 1,000 more in just those few, very few, minutes.
I am not alone. You are not alone. We are so intimately together. While on and on and on the count increases. Like a heart beating, th-thud, th-thud, th-thud. Like a clock ticking, ca-tock, ca-tick, ca-tock, ca-tick. Like a faucet leaking, drip-sp!--- drip-sp! --- drip-sp! Swallow water. Gulp. Sip. Clear clean water. My water. Your water. Our water. Water.
I breathe, they breathe. I think, they think. I eat, they eat. I walk, they walk. I blink, they blink. I live, they live. I die, they die. I am so very, oh so very not alone. Not separate. Not disconnected. Not alien from or alien to. My breath is their breath is my breath is your breath. Fish, fowl, flora, fauna, me, you, them. Breathe.
On and on and on. Breathe in. The number grows. Breathe out. The number is growing. Breathing in. I am not alone. Breathing out. I am so not alone. Gasp. None of us is alone. Choke. Breathe! In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.
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