Friday, 6 November 2020

Getting our Breath Back

Very pleased to have my piece 'Getting our breath back' published in Like the Wind magazine #24, accompanied by a fine illustration by Atul Vinayak and Jakob Owens. It is a short prose meditation on the experience of breathing in running which  started out as a spoken word piece at a 'Footnotes' runners open mic arranged by Vybarr Cregan-Reid a few years ago. In the time of Covid it has assumed a new relevance as we have all grown to appreciate the fragility of our breathing apparatus.

'Picture the start of a race on an icy winter’s morning – runners trying to keep warm, hands clamped under our arms, a few words, misty clouds of breath hanging above us in the air. The gun goes off and so do we. There is no more speaking, our mouths are occupied with taking in air and expelling carbon dioxide. Individually our respiration settles down into a steady pattern, part of a collective bodily polyrhythm of breaths, heartbeats and footsteps....

The French feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray talks of ‘the age of breath’:  breathing is a form of exchange between human, animals and plants, and amongst humans it is a fundamental shared experience that precedes any differences between us. She proposes recognising our breathing together as the basis of being together as an ethical community. To an extent that's what happens when we run together. The race is a mobile community of breath, sharing some moments in time and space, even if we are also competing against each other.'  

You can read the full article in the magazine, along with lots of other interesting reflections on running and Covid, Black Lives Matter and some great running challenges and experiences.

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