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Just Breathe

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Just breathe. I often toy with the idea of life as if it is a thing to be decoded and dissected, not just observed from a distance. The fundamentals of life fill me with a profound feeling of simplicity: breathe; eat; drink; sleep; die. The human becomes a barbaric machine when looked upon as an animal of mere existence. Each individual becomes a cog in the robotic turning of the world. I refuse to be an insignificant piece. I refuse to just breathe.
Just breathe. As an asthmatic and a profound believer in life’s opportunities, I find this command to be insipid and upsetting. The mandate is hardly meant to be condescending, but nonetheless I take offense. How can anyone ‘just breathe’? Is that all life is, mere survival? No. I will not just breathe.
Just breathe. A cold sweat coated the night with tears, and my breath came in feverish gasps as the ambulance whisked me away into the darkness. An overwhelming sense of confusion washed over me as the sirens blazed and my eyes took in the frightening sight of the medical equipment surrounding me. I was sure that death was reaching its dark, clammy hands down to claim me. Somehow, knowing that my finish line was imminent had a calming effect on me. The paramedic did not accept my doom, however, and told me that everything would be okay, that I needed to do one thing: just breathe.
Just breathe. Asthma makes it impossible to just breathe. It forces me to fight for the simple function that most individuals take for granted. It forces me to be empathetic to the struggle and pain of others, and to consider death with every ragged breath I draw. It makes life a privilege, but also an obstacle course. It makes survival an experience of actions; for without taking action, I will perish and sink into a grave of carelessness. I will fade away into insignificance if I just breathe.
Just breathe. I have often wondered why I was blessed with the gift of faulty lungs. I could blame it on DNA, the environment, or any number of other factors. I could live my life wallowing in self-pity, taking medications to get through the day and going to bed at night with a heavy heart and chest…or I can look at my asthma as an opportunity for purpose and self-improvement. I have grown accustomed to my encounters with fate, teasing me and tormenting me, but never discouraging me. I choose to pick my own destiny. I choose to live as though asthma is an opportunity to better the world and strengthen my fighting spirit. Life is a fleeting beauty and it is up to me to take advantage of the time that I have by enjoying the beauty of the world and volunteering my time to make it an even more abstract wonder. I can do so much with my life: write to inspire, cure the hurt and lonely, and take care of the underprivileged. Life is a chance to make a difference. It is a chance to do more than just breathe.
Just breathe. Like a fish without water, I cannot just breathe. Like a flower without sunlight, I cannot just exist. Asthma has taught me that “just breathing” is a hollow, cowardly means of existence. I cannot just keep moving blindly ahead with no purpose to my stride. I will never allow myself to fall into a rut where I just breathe. I will push on and persevere until my dying breath. The fundamentals of existence may be necessary, but I refuse to survive on them alone. I will make a difference in the world. I will use every ounce of my being to be remembered as a girl who did something beyond merely exist. I will not just breathe.



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