Breathe #thoughts


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 a while ago, 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 – Β 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 might evaluate our verbal jousting, Β 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?

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. 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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38 Responses to Breathe #thoughts

  1. gordon759 says:

    Did you manage to take the picture?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mick Canning says:

    Easily done, unfortunately, Geoff.


  3. barbtaub says:

    It’s funny, but as a woman I do the EXACT opposite calculation. We’re conditioned to be conciliatory, make those around us feel better, to give in. So what I’m always mentally telling myself is NOT to step back, NOT to discount my own feelings, NOT to automatically reconsider, or diffuse. Instead, it’s a mental “Heads up, shoulders back, stand your ground.”

    My hero? This scene from Fried Green Tomatoes. Towanda!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. willowdot21 says:

    Because you are human and that’s what humans do. They rattle off the indignat “I was onlys” and then immediately regret it .πŸ€­πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It wouldn’t have made nearly as interesting a story if you had breathed, Geoff. Conflict is so much more interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Empathy is nice but I seem to suffer from an excess dose of it. Be glad that you’re not a pushover like me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hear ya. Breathing is one thing, but it’s hard to feel like you’re losing in these kinds of social circumstances. The whole car element is so bizarre. My boys’ dropoff/pickup situation is horrible, which seems to be the norm. You can ‘t imagine how much honking and angst goes on (among parents whose kids are all in the same small school!)–as if 30 seconds here or there is altering the course of human existence. Yes, better to breathe! Classical music maybe? I have a Pavlovian response to Classical in the car–when I hear it I don’t drool, actually, but take a big cleansing breath. I recommend it!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ritu says:

    Easier said than done.
    That’s called hindsight…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I hear honks and never have a clue that they are directed at me. Saves a lot of conflict.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I call these hindsight lessons. They are only valuable if we heed them next time. Thanks for sharing, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love moments of consciousness like this, this is how we learn. As the Dalai Lama says ‘Whenever possible, be kind. It’s always possible.’ It’s just constant evaluation and practise πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Eileen says:

    I try sometimes successfully to see a moment in time in context of what may have gone on since early morning or even yesterday…..the chain of a threat from an overdue bill scaring wife, wife harasses husband, husband steps in dog poo on way to car, boss changes his schedule cutting down on husband’s potential profit for the day, husband sees oblivious photographer cutting into his profits more for the day…..etc. etc. husband comes home and kicks the dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. One thing that gets me going is invasion of my territory. Whose territory was this must be the issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think it took you by surprise to be so quickly and thoughtlessly attacked and when we are under attack, we become defensive. Breathing ceases during those times. But I’m in the same neighborhood as Pauline. A smile is disarming as is kindness. It takes years of practice but I had a problem practicing it even with family members for so long. This is a good reminder not to get blindsided. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Norah says:

    It does matter, Geoff. Your reflection. Next time you’ll breathe. There’s not one of us who hasn’t slipped off the verge at times. I’m pleased to hear you’re human. Join the club.


  16. Charli Mills says:

    When we forget to breathe it simply reminds us to breathe next time. Good thing we all get lots of practice being human.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What a beautiful thought . All the best. Check out my thought here

    Liked by 1 person

  18. That’s sweet πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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