Gasps of air

I realize now that the sadness has chased me all of my life.  It was always there, if not completely felt: something to avoid, something fleeting but looming.  A thing with a foul flavor that silently pushed me toward things that tasted better.

Like laughter, and adventure… sight, and song.  Kinship.  Love.  Things that filled me with the warmth of life, and made me less afraid of the cold hands of sadness, which remained invisibly behind, ready to reach out on any day to lay with a chill upon my shoulders, or in the back of my mind.

And so I think perhaps it is my life-long aversion to that feeling– that sad weight of worry, or fear, or pain– that has trained me to keep my head above water; to paddle like hell with my feet and my hands and my  thoughts, as long and as hard as they will possibly allow.

Because even when the cold tide is rising, inevitably, above your chin and your lips and to just under your nose, there are still wisps of breeze blowing by across the surface of the water, and in those gusts  you can still catch the most gorgeous of scents, and hear the most delightful of sounds: laughter,  and melodies.  These fleeting sensations are still yours to be heard, and smelled, and seen and felt, even if you’re gasping for air and the water is rising and you know that despite all efforts your head will inevitably fall below the surface.

But until then, just breathe.  Because you can still swim–even if it is only to save your life–and while you’re desperately treading water, the sparkling magic contained in each gasp for air bubbles with more beauty and meaning than any of the easy breaths you once drew, on bored summer days when you lay on the beach,  lazy with life.

But even then, as you sat breathing easy on that sunny shore, the sadness would suddenly tap you on the back of the head, your eyes would open to its presence, and you’d realize at that moment that you had a choice: to lay there and let the cold shadow of fear fall over you once again, or to get up and move toward something  warmer; something that maybe would make you smile.

And so, perhaps without realizing the power of this motion at the time, you would stand, with some effort, and step toward the water.  To go for a swim.  You would do this, to create a good moment– and with that, perhaps, a good day.  And then, with enough of those strung together… maybe a good lifetime.

Because you always liked swimming.  Swimming made you happy.  And a lot of times, the water was warmer than the shadows that lingered on shore.

So perhaps I have sadness to thank for being happy.  Perhaps it is the struggle that has kept me swimming… and has taught me how to keep my head above water, so that I might still catch those sweet gasps of air.

However it happened, I’m grateful for all of it.  Because man, can it be nice.

And the view of the beach from out here in the water is just as beautiful as the other way around…

22 thoughts on “Gasps of air

  1. My, this is beautiful. And so true… Thank you for this piece on this warm and gray Fall day. Not sunny but the scents of Autumn are all around us here in Minnesota reminding us to enjoy the fleeting warmth and yet whispering that colder whiter days are beckoning. In this cancer fight we share, our family and in particular my son Tim, we lift our chins to keep breathing even on the hardest days. Today is a tough one. So again, thank you for sharing your incredible gift… Hugs from a mom of a son with GBM diagnosed a year ago, Peggy S.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • You are one incredible guy,with a great gift for soul searching and honesty.We are always eager to read your thoughts and to appreciate your amazing writing and living skills.God bless.

  2. We don’t know each other, so it’s really odd. It’s odd that your written words, the immense strength of character and radiating spirit they showcase have served as a wake up call to change/better my life path. Thank you Chad. Know that you are a force.

  3. I have no words. Your writing is simply the most powerful I’ve ever read. Unflinchingly honest and more inspiring than you can possibly know. I hope you’re having a good day.

  4. What an impressive concentrate of beautiful positive thoughts.
    Glad to see this is where your head is at theses days my friend, or that day at least!

  5. What a philosophically beautiful and incredibly insightful post. The Wisdom of the Ages is reflected in that post, which is, dare I say, divinely poetic. We should all thank you for the gift you have shared with all of us. Thank you Chad for the gift of you.

  6. Your writing is so poetic, so moving. You have learned the secret of life. To stay in the present moment and to just breathe. Thank you for all you say and feel.

  7. You are not alone brother. There are a lot of us right next to you in the water. Even if you don’t see us. You are not alone…

  8. Interesting to hear you go back to the ocean for consolement (sp ?). My nephew John left his life as we knew it a few months ago, a transition to another place. Glioblastoma multiforme. Albert Einstein felt our life has an energy force and when we die, our body stays behind and our energy force of our life goes to another dimension. I believe that is where John is and that is where we all will go to. His brother Kevin , paddled his surfboard out into the ocean and spread a lai (sp) so that we would feel and remember John whenever we ventured out into the ocean, that he loved so very much.You are not alone brother, we will all transition to that other place, that energy force will guide you and bring you peace.

  9. Wow. What a powerful, beautiful piece Chad. Straight from the heart. Thank you. Keep swimming and sharing. Hope your doing well. Cathy x

  10. My beautiful wife has GBM. What you write, it keeps me from going insane. I visit your blog every day. Your sense of humor is an atom bomb against cancer. I do not know you personally, but I can say with no reservation, you are a genuine hero. And you will defeat this and my wife will defeat this–she has an excellent sense of humor too. You will live. So will she. A long and excellent life.
    In the meantime, know that I, an anonymous american husband of a beautiful french woman who suffers from Glioblastoma, I seek out your blog every day and I read what you write,….because….truly….you keep me from going insane.

  11. I was googling George Gershwin and Rhapsody & Blue; and I was directed to your blog. And I just wanted to say thank you. You have touched me, a stranger, and so many others. Your kindness, humor, courage, and love of life radiate out. You matter. And you are heard.

  12. Such a grace and ease of writing Chad I wonder if this too is swimming with words…It provides us too with your beautiful view

  13. Haven’t heard from you in awhile.  There are a lot of people out here reading your updates.  Hope all is well in your world! Mike Pate

  14. I just happened on your beautiful, uplifting, funny, honest, poetic blog. Thank you. I needed this today. I am sending you strength, love and good vibes and thank you for what you’ve given us!

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