Learning to breathe #1000speak @1000speak


Happy? You bet!

We don’t need to learn that, do we? It’s one of those instinctual things like using our hearts, sweating and realising a cake must be moist to be good.

Only you do. Or I do.

I had a minor altercation with a cabbie on Wednesday when I was trying to photograph a rather impressive monument outside one of London’s mainline stations. To obtain a decent image, given the position of the sun I stood on a piece of cobbled ground behind a parked cab. What I hadn’t appreciated – because there were no marks hinting at such a situation – was this was a place where black cabs waited when their drivers wanted a break.

So there I am, standing on what seems to me to be a piece of scrabby open space when I hear, right behind me a toot of a horn.

I’m old enough to interpret toots. And this wasn’t a cheery ‘hi, it’s me’ or a ‘be careful, you haven’t seen me’ toot. Nope, I’d lay a pound to a penny this was a ‘shift your fat arse, granddad, I want to park’.

I half turned and waved a hand vaguely in the direction of the cab –  if I’m being honest it was not the politest wave but not really rude either (at least that is the way I viewed it) – and I carried on lining up my shot. And that’s when the ‘oi, you’ began.

So I turned. I had maybe ten seconds to determine my approach. That’s when I could – perhaps should – have learned to breathe. To clear my head with a deep inhalation of oxygen.

I didn’t. Neither did he. He was my age. He thought I’d ‘flicked him a ‘V’ sign’. I thought he’d been chivying me unnecessarily. He said he was just warning me not to step back in case I bumped into him. I said I was acknowledging his presence. Who was bullshitting whom? Our language developed a fruity edge as we decried the other’s explanation for their behaviour while defending our own.

Neither of us was breathing. Neither of us was happy. Neither of us tried to empathise with the other. Neither of us showed compassion for the other or ourselves.

As I walked away, I felt an acrid burning build in the pit of my stomach. Maybe I held my own in this frank exchange of views but I knew, however I migth evaluate our verbal jousting,  I’d lost. I knew if I’d stepped back and smiled – if I’d apologised that I’d got in his his way – then I would have walked on feeling better. Happy with myself. He might too.

What did it matter?

Why can I not learn to breathe?

This post is written as part of the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. Every month, on and around the 20th, we post about compassion. This month the theme is happiness and compassion. This is the blog and you can also follow on twitter at #1000Speak

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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5 Responses to Learning to breathe #1000speak @1000speak

  1. trifflepudling says:

    I don’t live in London now but at the first hint of a toot, I’d have been out of the way in a trice. I always assume I’m in the wrong. However, for sanity’s sake, in the words of the sainted Queen Elsa ‘Let it go’! Not worth getting involved, he wouldn’t have remembered afterwards anyway; no face lost.
    You chaps!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You describe that moment of loss of self so perfectly Geoff – the ego rises up and snarls “Don’t tell ME what to do!” and we lose our wonderful self – replaced by an ugly beast that will do anything to win. And the reality is, nobody wins. It’s the horrid feeling after that tells us not to do that. It doesn’t contribute to our personal happiness in any way and when we look to that first every one wins! Still practising 🙂


  3. jan says:

    I think we’ve all had moments when looking back on reflection we’d wished we’d just taken a deep breath. It is something we all need to learn; to breathe. (I haven’t figured it out)

    Liked by 1 person

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