Last night, Rich Brodsky tweeted something I liked:


This reminded me of a piece I posted on talk.bizarre back in 1995:

Step back and take a look one level bigger. Fly over your city in an airplane and look at it. Sit quietly in the woods or in a park on a clear day. Think about your job. What do you do? No, what exactly is it that you really do, and why? Detach yourself from it and have another look. Take a day off and go for a ride. Insert this day between all the other days; this day doesn’t exist.

I used to swim in high school. My two main events were 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley. In the hundred fly, breathing is a bad thing to do. If you do it too often, you lose. You want to breathe? Except at the turns, you do it once, maybe twice per leg in a 50m pool, and probably not at all, max once, in a 25m pool. When you do breathe, you make the most of it.

Every once in a while, at work or at school, I notice that I haven’t breathed in six or eight weeks. This happened to me a lot as an undergrad, less as a grad student. I try to make sure it doesn’t happen at all anymore, but occasionally it still does. When it does, I don’t do anything for anyone. I might go to the zoo. I might go out to Fallingwater. I might go to the park or the woods and sit quietly for a while. This day doesn’t exist. And I can breathe.

What do I do for a living? I don’t remember; ask me again tomorrow.

Originally posted 17 April 1995 to usenet talk.bizarre.

(Post script: As a parent of two small children, I now expect to get to breathe again next sometime in June of 2023. If I’m still alive then.)