Use your breath as a guiding force for movement and transformation. Breath. Movement. Transformation. I closed my eyes. I was on the plane, unsure if I felt grateful or regretful to be hung over. At least it distracted me from all the emotions charging at me—bringing me up, taking me down. My stomach did tricks and gave me something else to focus on. I felt it again, as I did when I turned my head away from my parents standing at the bottom of the steps to the boarding gate—Goodbye—the pressure of warm tears behind my eyes, my bottom lids cupping them. My eyes welled again and the tears tipped out, one by one, down my cheeks. I didn’t want to sniffle.

I watched the buttoned-up stewardesses push their way down the aisles with their paid smiles, plastic cups, and carts. The smell of peanuts coming from the guy beside me made me nauseous. I was torn between emotional overload and my hangover, feelings coming in unpredictable waves. I gripped the plastic armrests and leaned my head back on the stiff navy seat. Here goes. The plane inched down the runway. The rumble of the engine and loud whirring sounds made me more nervous to take off. The plane bounced into the sky, tilting left and right. My brain might as well have floated out the top of my head; my stomach did a turn, again.

We were in the air. Can’t sleep. Can’t focus enough to read. Can’t get the damn headphones untangled. From the moment I woke up until take-off, the morning had been stacked with those moments when you feel like nothing is going your way. You know, those waking up late, stubbing your toe, spilling your coffee as you run out the door and you still miss the bus kind of mornings. Anxiety pent up in my chest and stunted my breath. I focused on all the little things; looked at the airline magazines in the rope-hatched pouch in front of me. My body felt tense from trying to keep all my limbs close. I didn’t want to escape the space of my narrow seat and invade the people around me.

Breathe deep. Breathe into it. Use your breath as a muscle. I exhaled with an open mouth. I remember how breathing into my mental convolution was a lot like breathing into physical pain. I’m always surprised how much a sigh releases tension. As I acknowledged all the feelings, one by one, they seemed to melt away. I realized they were mere abstractions. Scared, unsure, and alone turned to excitement. I remembered how much I wanted this change. Things were going my way, I thought. There was no turning back now. The plane. The plane was going my way.

I looked out the oval window and watched the wing pass fields of fleecy clouds. As each moment floated forward, all that I could see just before vanished. I let myself forget about what I couldn’t see. My little window could only frame so much. I closed my eyes and hoped to sleep, more exhausted than I’d ever been. I curled my legs up on the stiff seat and found myself surprisingly comfortable. My chin rested on my knee and I could feel my breath on my leg. Alive. I felt an inexplicable gratitude for the moment, as it was. Right before I fell asleep, I realized: I didn’t have to run to get where I was going.


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