I enjoy meditating. I wait for the slowing of my heartbeat and breath to allow my soul to connect to who I am. I start the morning in peace and hope for a better day.

When my father was agitated or angry his breathing would speed up. If he thought the issue at hand was manageable he might frown. If he was really tense his face would whiten like knuckles ready to box and his eyes would widen, his movements would slow and then he would almost stop breathing. Then I knew he was really angry.

I have found myself doing the same in the office at work before. A few years ago my chest tightened with a crushing pain and I decide to change things. The first thing was a visit to a cardiologist for intervention, and the second, much harder, was to discipline myself to be responsible. To be able to choose my response to any situation. In my world I have chosen the path and if events force me off that path they are events beyond my control. My response to those events, however, is well within my control. So I finally came to understand a very personal form of responsibility. There are other responsibilities in my life; to my wife, to family, to friends, to myself, to my cultures, to my nations and to my dreams. Each one of those I was taught as a child. Choosing a peaceful response to a situation came later, perhaps after mastery of some aspects of the other responsibilities.

My father was very serious in his responsibilities. He was responsible for his wife, his children, his mother after his father died, his sister after their father died, his church and religion, his Greek community and federation, his SAHETI and many other people and ideals. These formed part of his dream, and fulfilled him to a degree as much as they caused him angst at times.

The difference in our lives is astounding. Mine a life of luxury and meditation and his a life of giving and prayer. There are similarities but those lie in his shadow. But it is the similarities that allow me to write his story. The differences will add many more pages to the road he travelled.

It is fair to say my father meditated while in prayer. His breathing slowed and he spoke to God of his desires, his dreams and the hope he had for his family, his church and his community. In prayer his breathing must have slowed down.

His favourite saying in times of hardship was a simple Latin motto: “dum spiro spero”.

I breathe therefore I hope.

Dad, Panagioti and Me; Kakouri 11 July 2008

One thought on “Conversations about Breathing

  1. A most poignant piece of prose: but the differences are not that vast…there are many subtle similarities. I love the photo.


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