The Air I Breathe

Sometimes, it is the simplest things that escapes us. The truly trivial aspects of life that we pay not attention to; rather, we only come to realise it once the obstacles were laid upon by the powers that be, or once it has been cruelly taken or snatched away from our grasp.

Easily, it can be taken, for our grasp is the reflection of the perceived importance we ourselves laid upon it. It is a measure of how we see it, of how we see the world. How tightly would we have held on to that one thing, to that one person, to that one object that would make the difference between the darkness of despair or the birds singing the morning after, had we known that it may well be the last time for a long time we would have had such an opportunity?

How much more would we have given?


I woke up in the morning, feeling worse for wear. The air, stuffy, seemed like an enemy, rather than a friend. I couldn't breathe; any attempts as such would have only permitted a smidgen of oxygen into my lungs through my nose.

I had the flu recently. No, not the swine flu, nor any strains of the H1N1 virus that had been making its around all over the world. It appeared to be deadly enemy, yet it could yet turn out to be our friend.

Of course, though time proved that not to be the case, I thought that I had it nonetheless. Or at least, in the beginnings of attaining such symptoms. Slightly panicking, instead of slipping back into my customary sleep after checking the clock (8 o'clock on a Sunday morning), I rushed out of bed, as noiselessly as possible, so as not to stir my roommates with unconfirmed panic themselves. I went walkabout, looking for open pharmacies on a Sunday morning. Korea's been rather notorious for having unfriendly business hours, especially when it comes to the things that you truly need at the time when you need it the most.

Then again, I suppose that could have applied to a number of other countries.

After trawling the streets for an hour, I finally found an open pharmacy. I bought the meds, had some rudimentary breakfast (thus breaking my fast at the same time), popped the pills down, went back home, and slept. Later I went for a check up, and it was confirmed to be a minor case of the sniffles, the flu, a slight fever...but thankfully nothing more.

Nevertheless, for the past week or so, even doing the most rudimentary of activities proved to be a bigger task than it usually would have been. Getting down to the point, my nose was blocked, and I couldn't breathe well at the best of times.

The air, breathing it through the nose, inhaling and exhaling, the very link between the internal and external that keeps us going, the one thing that perhaps a lot of us (including me) take for granted on a daily basis...just wouldn't fucking go in.

Over time, with heavy doses of ginseng, honey water, medicines, mouthwashes (as prescribed by the school nurse), throat sweets...things improved. Slowly but surely. The nasal passages feels less shy, less inclined to block the air, and in the brief moments when I could breathe through my nose, it felt like heaven. A brief moment of respite, of thankfulness, of relief, which grew more and more until I am now completely healed.

A few days ago, I woke up, and the birds sang just that bit louder. There weren't any birds actually around, but that's OK. The air I breathe, I breathe in slowly, just glad that I was able to do so, that it was back.

Ah, for the pleasures of being alive.

In truth, there is little else that you and I could really, truly ask for.

Just to be alive.

*Film for the day: 'Y tu mama tambien' by Alfonso Cuaron.