A meditation on breathing. Graphite, acrylic, watercolor on paper. 24″ x 26″

For the last several days, Seattle has been saturated with smoke from forest fires. The air has been beyond unhealthy – it’s been hazardous to breathe. Breathing it is like having bad allergies – burning eyes, congestion – and the acrid taste and smell.

My adult life has been one of dreading the effects of climate change, frustrated at the inaction, the fear, the lies and deception, the corruption. Today, here we are, living with the effects. What else is there to do but breathe the air we’ve made?

How many pandemics are we living with now? We have a viral pandemic (coronavirus), an environmental pandemic (wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, heat waves exacerbated by human caused climate change), a racial injustice pandemic, a toxic politics, a polluted culture; a broken, crumpled world.

Which mask do I put on today? The one that prevents viral transmission? The one that filters smoke particles? The one that protects me from tear gas, or identification by the state? Or the one that puts on a happy face, that says I’m fine and you’re fine and we’re all fine?

We’re all breathing the same air.

We also know there’s blue sky out there. Right now, it’s raining, and the ocean air is expected to clean up the air in Seattle. For awhile.

We have everything we need to clean things up.

We must stop our destructive ways. Destructive to the planet, the air, to our politics, to our flourishing.

We vote. We donate to causes. We march.

We have a glass of wine and we sing and we dance. We share our stories. We share the same breaths and the same air, and we all participate in the same reality. We are one holy, breathing body!

Here’s to working for a day when we don’t need masks anymore, and when we can all breathe again. I wonder if that day will ever come. But, we can only live as if that day were possible for us to create.