Re-Enter the Concept of Breathing

praying-hands-blackwhiteThings have been fierce like the seas, at times. At others quite calm like the snowstorm. The snow falling so fast and sticking to the earth in such volume, dampening sound. The silence will come again as we watch the purity of white flakes fall from the sky. Think of yourself sitting on the curb of your street and seeing cars pass, but not hearing one sound – one tire. Here we are again, with the frozen beauty. Yet we stand tall at all costs.

So many people still check to see if I am writing, and so I will write again. I have no desire to fall silent. So many messages. Recovery, I’ve determined, is more important than deafening sickness. This could well be because so many who defeat sickness decide that the act alone is sufficient to cure their terminal illness, and so they pass beyond. My friends…brothers…sisters…CFers everywhere. This fight never ends. I am healthy, but I have to scrape the dirt for a hill of sand to pound for it.

The last one…my last CF companion from childhood has passed on. I am alone, now. I remember our last call: “I just can’t, Gabe. I give up.” Two weeks later he was gone and he was the last one I knew first hand. He was my final companion. There is only one solution for the poison of giving up: the poison of refusing to. Refusing to give in is a poison to our pain, and within it we can seek its destruction. I have learned since transplant that I had died three times prior. Officially. Dead. But I didn’t want to stay there. And so…I didn’t.

The peculiar thing about what is and is not is that both are intellectually subjective. I am here because this is what I love. The people I surround myself with are love. Life. Is love. Remember this always, even as the post that comes of the weekend or next are filled with influenced and subjective interpretation. Remember Love Always. Always Love.

Love Always,

~Gabe

Part II: The Second Winter

awakening…And that is where I stopped writing…

You see, anyone who has any sense runs into the wall. That is what I realized. There is a point where every man looks at his future and says: “I can’t.” I didn’t so much look at my life and think there was a wall I was crashing into. Instead I looked at my future and cowered in fear. The weight of the full pressure of being a functional adult was crushing. “What do I do in this law practice?” “How do I cope with not having a complete absence of responsibility?”

At the end of it all these beautiful winters fly by our tearful eyes with great haste; waiting for nothing, but sharing beauty with all of us. The ground glistens with the ice of a future forward – testing our minds, and breaking our weakness – but treating us to a sight so astonishing that we finally understand what we have been fighting for. This second winter I find nothing so invigorating as the frozen chill of the numbness in my fingertips; the complete and all-encompassing frozen wonderland before my eyes.

There is much to be said for the living of a life that stands poised to fight once again. I find that at the end of all of this I will be ready to go directly into battle and fight until I die once and for all. I know now exactly what to do in this place I have stumbled upon.  Nothing can stop me, and nothing can make me feel that I’ve made a mistake any longer. Why this is, some wonder. But when we look to the meaning of our decisions we need only look in the mirror. What do you see? I will tell you about what glares back through those poisoned eyes that I see: something that has overcome through miraculous endeavors. Someone who does not know whether he did it himself, or whether he had help. Someone who craves little for knowing the answer. But, in the end, I see someone who still wakes up each day and says: “today I will be a better man.”

The snow falls in torrents now, and the ground glistens like a completely new world as yet unwritten by man. The footprints in the snow are conspicuously absent, while the tire tracks of the passing cars can be found no longer. The kind of snow you want to go and make a snow angel, or simply stick your tongue out of your mouth; wide and expectant. The taste of that first flake of the year rushing down your back while it freezes your fingertips. The beauty is not in the discomfort, because the discomfort is a misconception. You see, these feelings, these last ditch efforts of a body to feel something…these make us a beautiful piece of creation. Proprioceptors, nociceptors, and all of the neurons in our body flying through our minds all at once. Thousands of electric shocks  ringing in our ears as our mind says both: “it’s cold!” and “it’s beautiful!”

The beauty in the world is something that reminds me of nothing. The negative sound of the sentence is not intended, but there is simply no comparison. Nothing can be similar enough for remembrance or reminders than the breathtaking blessing that streams from the fount of a miraculously crafted perfection. At the end of all that there is, there is not a thing but the beneficial essence of the comrades with whom we would be willing to live. Not with whom we would die. You see, being taken for mortal is something other than being appreciated. For, to be loved is to create the manifestation of immortal essence. But to die is only the elimination of essence, alone. Therein we must fight so much harder to live and love.

Imagine that feeling you had when you met your first mate. Was she beautiful? Was he handsome? See, this is the essence of adulthood masquerading as an absence of the conceptualization of the inner child. This is the second winter.

Step outside.

Stick your tongue out and taste a snowflake.

You are young again.

Make a snow angel and take every sensation you can into your being.

Here we are in the second winter of my life. I remember struggling with roads and feeling that chilling freeze fill my lungs. It seems to so many that this is pain and discomfort. Stop for one second. Just imagine a life where you can’t breathe that deep and can’t even have the privilege of feeling that cold snap. It is not inconvenient, it is invigorating. Without your body telling you what is hot and cold, pleasurable and fantastic, painful and harsh….how can you live? Sensation is the only thing standing between us and living Death. Pain is pleasure when it means the definitive markings of a life well lived.

All that we have now is hope and life. There is no more in between. I see it every day now – people tearing other people apart through a courtroom or a system. Some kind of bullet shot forth to destroy each step of the way. Do you want remuneration for an injustice? Do you want to break everything apart and start over? Mostly the answer is one vindictive “yes.” But I encourage you to live for life, and to fight to live. The body will die, but the heart is eternal. Live for your beautiful heart, and hope for amazing things because we all have something inside of us that shines like the sun.

Life is beauty because life is kindness. I see my theory in this world and then I combine it with the manifestation of practice and retaliation  upon the precipice.  Over the course of the last few months I have met some thing and some people that made professionalism seem just as organic and worth the effort of breathing easy. I can say only one thing with conviction…breathing easy was astonishingly hard.

Here I am and I am going to marry the only woman I have ever known real love for. Not young love, and not temporary love – but something permanent. You see…I proposed to her and I will teBd0ogGHCQAAdrhZll you all about this now. I walked her through our memories, and I loved her like there was no world beyond the tomorrow that we claim a stake in. This is something I still do when I wake…each day. First I took her to our first bouquet of flowers, and then I left ten clues, written on parchment and sealed in wax with my symbol – the fleur de lis. At the end of the hunt she found her love letter, and the second delivery of her ring with a letter. The second letter, in the second winter. BMSR is the breath in my lungs, and the sense in my logic. She is my superior and my honor. She is not mine. She is hers. And I love her like breath and life.

I practice law and I love, and I live. When I started this living memoir in 2010 I will tell you with truth on my lips that I knew I would die before I received the transplant. I am humbled by my success t defying Death, and I am proud of the life in which I have drowned since that day. Three failed offers, and a diagnosis that said I would die when I was eight. But here I am. I remember that first diagnosis of respiratory failure. I was more pissed than afraid. I said to myself: “not today, and not this way.” I said this because I wanted to know what real love was, and what kindness felt like. I said this because I wanted to practice law and help the world find something in itself. I am here now, watching the snow fall out in the world. Freezing my ears in the same second that I engage the Earth upon which I walk. The rusting snow doesn’t cause me pain now, however. I can only think of JJW and the opportunity he has given me, and BMSR and my love for her. The life I live and the parents and family that held me up on my feet when my body tried to fall.

I can stare at the mesmerizing snowfall for hours and see nothing but time flying toward Earth and love in rust-smelling white flecks. Here I stand today, with something more than 60 pounds of weight I never had before the lungs came to honor me with their life-giving blessing. Here I stand today…with breath. Look at your world, remember your life is precious…and breathe. Always know the beauty Life offers you, and the potential that it leaves before you. Take it. Take it and breathe.

Part I: The Second Autumn

SolitudeThe scent has returned. The world is preparing for a long sleep and permits us the privilege of witnessing it shed its colors and fall into a long hibernation. And so it came and it passed. As our reward we find that we get one moment to watch. We catch a side glimpse of the universe breaking in half, and becoming something new – a cocoon speaking the names of the loved ones. So many people view the autumnal days as a sign of the coming death of the world. But – alas – for me it is a reckoning. I once shed my flesh and body to become new again in the spring. I have died. Two times. Three times? But here I stand before you as a titan and a survivor by complete accident of fate. Autumn is not death. Autumn is a sign that there will be rebirth. While my body shed its leaves, so did the trees; and as my life clouded with uncertainty, so the sky did as well. Lo, the cotton clouds speak volumes more than my simple mind can grasp.

The autumnal winds and rains have come, and they have brought with them the reminiscent scent of sickness that permeates the love and life I’ve come to expect and answer to. The same maze that I was once running so much like a rat; to the precipice I have come and the edge do I yet grasp, filled with fear. The conundrum presents itself: how do we fight for the ultimate health while balancing the pivotal life we wish we had had the courage to have lived?

I lost everything for a moment so many months ago, and yet regained it all the next. It’s a funny thing that happens when the world comes together to show you that you must bow low to your own mortality. Again and again, as if each morning – I approach this precipice and wonder if I should happen to fall, what would happen next? It is not so much of a chorus as it seems, the end of a measure and the resonance in which we gather while the symphony finds solace in its universal crescendo. It is merely the culmination of the recognition of the Invincibility Complex come to grapple with our new found Mortality Complex. Nothing so complicated about a feigned complexity as this. We live, and we survive. We don’t die and we fill up with guilt and we spill over.

Every single thing. She and the universe have come to one place and made things coalesce into what is visible through the treacherous fogs of what is and what is not. What is not is merely the absence of what is. And here I stand to prove that this as a statement of fact rather than a mere hypothesis. Life could always endure when death approaches – if so we did choose –  but only when we come face to face with it and choose to defy it through eternity do we know defiance of  mortality.

It has been a rocky month or two as I found a home with a law firm in town – which feels more like a future than a past. I find that this has all come to pass at the perfect time of the year and the coalescence of scents and sounds with thoughts and emotions has become a manifold and a safety. I had no right to expect someone would pluck me out of the bowels of obscurity and cast me into a light, and so the eternal voice of my gratitude is invariable.

When I started working I lost the ability to track a few critical necessities. My body was new and I knew not what it meant to linger and loiter – resting casually against the walls of convenience and cleverness. Work need not deplete us or delete us like so little text in the machine, but so we rest our backs on the plaster and hope for physical strength in the mind alone. In the mind rests an unmuddied fountain, and so we must continue diving – even after we think we’ve crashed upon the rocks.

Life as a practicing attorney is an amazing life, indeed. From 3.9 on average to 3.5 did my FEV1 drop, however. I didn’t know what was happening at first and my cowardice prevailed. I began to see myself as the rejectee – or the rejector, as it were. But when I stopped aggressively working my body, I didn’t process the connection between furious effort and lackluster performance.

To take the world and make it your own one must understand the concept of the world as it stands. I do not. The amazing thing about life is that no one person could ever know what it is to be unified with the concept of the dichotomous relationship between life and non-life. We simply are. We are.

I like to think about where I was one year ago today. To think of the savage abyss from which I could cry out even in recovery. Or perhaps – maybe – I should remember where I was two years ago. Dying. I would say to myself: “I have at least 20 years to drag this condition into the future.” I had that in months, at best. Life is never a fight. It is a gift. No matter how much I struggled to gasp for air and how hard I tried not to suffocate on the words I spoke to make this site prosperous and all-encompassing…no matter…it was always a reality that I was offering. We are not struggling; even as we throw our hands in the air and beg to live for one more minute. Broken and sickness embodied, so do we take for granted our stature as the end of what comes. Life is the culmination of Hope, and so we only need one single second.

The life I live is a blessed one, and comes mostly from fortune rather than fame. The nature of what the privileged have is a sick and twisted version of what those who have nothing could have should they so come into miracles and privilege. I have died. I have died and I can look in the mirror and say: “I know I do not deserve this entitled sense of superiority.” I only lived. I am the one who got lucky. Of course, I do know so many CF patients who simply gave in and died. One who said to me two weeks before he died: “I just can’t do it anymore, Gabe. I don’t want to be here. I can’t…” And so went the last of the roommates we were permitted to have as CF patients. This ended when I was 12 years old, and not one remains alive.

Life is nothing if you refuse to strip the greatness from it. Life is nothing if you refuse to live it. I promise you that death awaits us all. Those with CF, and my dearest friend with another disease. But at the end of the day I remember the only thing my birth-mother ever taught me…”what is disease, but the absence of ease?” And so it goes. Make it easy. Take your stress and sickness and roll it up into a ball. Look then, and maybe pain will cease to be as intimidating when it is in the palm of your hand.

I clawed my way to my life, and still don’t quite deserve it. Look now. See the Sun setting so soon, and see the stars of Cassiopeia shining like the night’s own guidepost. Look now. See the fields and the trees beckoning you to know the world in which you live. If we forget for one moment the precious permanence of life, then we risk the fleeting absence of it as an alternative. Take your night and use it to stare up into the Milky Way. This came so easily when winter showed its inevitability. I stood out front of the apartment and cried. I wept and I loved. The universe is more than we can ever grasp and within it rests an entirely unique realm of thought that contemplates naught but beauty.

So goes the luck of the life I live so gratefully.

There’s This Funny Thing About Life…

SolitudeI am so sorry…

You see, after a few months of full time employment, I have done nothing but journalize my life. I haven’t posted as I promised, but I have written as I have anticipated…

It’s an amazing thing, this…Time. You find yourself a part of the winter winds, and the autumnal leaves. Suddenly, you find that you have missed everything that creates the dynamics of Life, and settled for naught but the realism of living. It is truly amazing how one can look at the sky and feel they have run out of time, but continue to work the entirety of their days as anything but an adventurer.

To be an adventurer…this I miss. I see the past and I remember flying through the world as if a ghost with life.  But I would trade nothing, and for this I have found all that I ever sought to find. There is more to be said for successful completion of one’s goals than there is whimsy. Life is beauty, but it is something which we must find the beauty in rather than waiting with arms open to catch something we have not found, indeed. To take your breath for granted is to forsake your own beauty. We are life. We are human.

On the horizon, I have the post I promised in October, as well as a post written for December. I am going to post them at the same time as a celebration of life. Soon, I will have something to say. For so long, I’ve forsaken saying anything in favor of living everything. I regret nothing, but I am still here. Thank you for staying with this site, to all of the 30,000 of you who have come and gone for my words. I love you, I love Life, and I love everything that is. I will see you all on Saturday with a double post. Keep Breathing Easy, and don’t forget to look up at that sky and breathe deeply – Living is beautiful.

Love,

~Gabe

Super Fast Update About Updates!

Hello, friends.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here, in spite of my own commitment to write here once each month or more. It’s a funny thing, but now that I am living a life that I have always sought out…I am writing about it significantly less than I am living it.

But I write. I write and I write. Before any of that finds its way to the site, however – I want to make sure it says something worth saying. To look into the sunset and to live and love is an equivalent exchange, but to abandon the concept of hope is foreign to my mind. I have much to say about my progress, and much to say about my fall from health in the past month – and also finding an equilibrium yet again. Breathing Easy is still breathing easy, and I am posting to let you all know that I will have my new post up within the next week.

Thank you for staying tuned, and please keep watching. But, more so than anything else – don’t miss a single breath. And don’t let your life continue one more moment without taking a second to appreciate the amazing beauty within which we continuously find ourselves standing.

Love,

Gabe

The Coming of The Second Year a Second Time

8655298738_431e9beb54_o            The year has come and gone with no fury and bluster, but pleasure and pride. There is a name for this peace of mind, and pieces of mine: eudemonia. The essence of all that is within, and the composition of my being is something that has come to be quite synonymous with happiness and an amazing contentment. Emotionally, I am complete. Spiritually, I am whole. Physically…I am alive. This is the second time that a second year has come, and the last. Should this ever arise again, there will be a third, but at long last I envision that I will be as so much ash in the winds by the time I need live in Death’s long shadow once more.

I find that I have celebrated great health with a day in the sun and a day in the world. For the first anniversary of my birth, last July 16th, I have had dinner with those whom I love and I have ridden roller coasters for the first time in decades. Life has not come full circle. Rather, I have started a completely new one, and I now stand poised to embrace my second year; my second circle. My first birthday having come and gone, I feel God-sized, yet submissive to the concept of the necessity of humility. There is something intrinsic in the fight against sickness that lets one know they are infinitesimally small – universally. Yet, alas, we tend to falter and fade unto the giants in our own mind. As Nimrod lowers us unto the ninth circle, we feel as though we still may stand above him in spite of his having lent us his hands. To fight after defeating Death itself is to look into the eyes of some twisted  megalomania and say: “No. Not for me. I am but a man.” Alas, often we cease fighting after the eternal chess game has ended, and Death grants us life.

Submission is key in the destruction of prideful sicknesses. Think of this for a moment. There is no sense in saying that sickness is a manifestation of pride, surely. However, the way we overcome is through an amazingly powerful environment filled with love. There is an immediate necessity, here: to prioritize the love of family and friends. To prioritize the necessity of leaning upon the shoulders on which we most rely. Sickness alone, for me…well…this was something akin to a rationalization. But sickness defeated was a culmination of love given and love received. And it was something that came so naturally that all I really wanted was nothing more than to wake next up after a successful surgery next to my mother LP and my father JP, whose faces I can still see in those horrible plastic ICU chairs exactly one year ago in July. My father’s face staring down at me as he reminded me I could do this when they ripped the ventilator out of my throat with a numbing grind. Without those shoulders…where, God? Where would I be?

So many visits to the hospital in Columbus to keep myself alive in the interim…so many…so many… Each time I went with my Grandma N, and we became an amazing team. This is a woman who I admire and hold in esteem that can’t be measured. Though my cold exterior never leans on anything but chairs and doorframes – it is clear that to lean on those I love with what is inside of me is something amazing, indeed. Something that has driven me to this date – the day that the world says: “You’ve made it”…”Your transplant worked!” It is truly something to brag about, this. My family carried me to the finish line like a sack of potatoes, and then I found someone to whom I could give every ounce of love I have ever found and have ever known in the world. There has not been one single moment in time that I have not had a life filled with love – be it my love extending outward, or someone loving me inward – but my life after birth has been love alone. I have said many times that life’s fruits can only be tasted by those who will love the world selflessly, and it holds true. The fact that love is something coming inward for me is what saves my life over and over again each day.

I still remember the sound of those clippers in the tiled shower at Cleveland Clinic…sitting there idle for three months. Waiting and then healing. So much anxiety. Will I live? Will I see eternity, or will I see stillness? Will I see rejoicing, or will I see silence? I called my brothers JH and AEZ before each offer just to tell them I loved them and they saw me through. I called LP and two hours later she was standing in front of me hoping for nothing but the best outcome. I always underestimated how much everyone around me was filled with love, and I encourage you – readers – to never make that mistake. People are capable of great things if you let them manifest the truth of their emotion. And at the end of the day – nothing outside of knowledge and wisdom wields as much power as an emotion.

The panic leading up to the anniversary was immense. I admit it. It was something extreme, which time has forced upon me as my enemy. Time. Time is something so significant as to earn no more than my ignorance, yet it commands the stock of my concern as does one with  pull and power.  But I am home. I am home now and time can never touch me again. I can drink, and I can feel. I can eat and I can heal. I can love and live, meet, and see. I can find happiness in the things that flew by in my periphery before I knew how important they were. Within the depths and counsel of the spirit that I thought I possessed, I have found peace and health at long last.

Yes. The coming of the second year, a second time. This is an eternity which questions the coming of the first. Did I ever wait, or was it all a dream? The death of a child to provide the lungs of a grown man, and the provision of life where only death would have remained.  My survivor’s guilt was astounding. Something like that. I had some manifestation of guilt that doesn’t quite fit the defined parameters of survivor, but it was a great regret for me to know that one should have to die, and I should have the privilege of life. I would have gladly died so that another may live, and to accept the gift of life where I would much rather have given it was…troubling. There is no justice in death. But, alas, neither is there justice in sickness. So we make our choices, and we move forward. We overcome, and we persevere.

I have no idea what happened in the last 365 days, or the time after. It all seems to be spinning around like an insane carousel with a mind all its own. I know I can feel the pulling and tearing of muscles in my arms and chest and legs. I can feel weights, and taste protein. I can feel the sweat on my back, and prove that I’m real when I use my body and take advantage of its new found strength. But, when I see myself in the mirror, I lose my connection to recognition and reality. I become a manifestation of my own hope and a realization of my own dreams ten years before. My life was unhappy and sick, then. I found no peace when I was young, and even when I submersed myself in the beauty of the world…even then I could drown in the self-flagellating, and  pain-stricken lack absence of universal worth I felt when I looked in a mirror. I was an empty shell, and a dying husk.

Each day I think back to the moment they told me I would never make it this far; that I would plateau. Each day I think back to the moment the respiratory therapist told me I would never make it this far. The rest is nothing more than a blur of moments, bleeding together to form the conceptual year. There is an intrinsically philosophical property to the recognition of the time passing by within the context of the life I have stolen from its gaping maw. I like to think that “I showed those guys!” But I didn’t. It was never about spite, because spite is empty. The heart of spite is rotten and full of sickness. I have fought for too much, and lived through too much for this ship to break apart upon the rocks of spite’s wicked shore. It is about life, and life alone. It’s about the same philosophical approach to life that I’ve always had: hope.

Hope permeates and permits. Hope defines and determines. Time has exploded like a dying star, and here I stand. Here we stand. Through trial and triumph the body of readers and transplantees, the ill and the healed, the hopeful and the apprehensive; we stand united and we stand alive, basking in the heat of the beautiful nova. Life is a series of moments flashing by when you recall it all at once. Each among us has a vision of tiny moments; flashes of light. The shining of a street lamp upon the smile of the one we love. The moon shining across the waters as we stand there alone and witness the world’s beauty calling to us as though we’ve never seen anything in our lives, and our eyes have only just then opened for the first time. The snow descending upon our brows and making note of each step we take, for just one moment, until our life’s path has been hidden again by the winter’s rush.

We can never go back. We can never relive these precious moments, but we can always remember the eyes and the smiles, the snows and the motions. The truth of Life’s excitement is that it is the dominant oppressor of Death. To die is to experience one moment. To live is to embrace a mentality and a series of these moments as one united front that stands tall; firmly embracing all of your hopes and dreams should you choose to trust it.  To choose to move forward and to take everything as a gift; even a gift of life that has come from the clutches of unjust death. In the end, to know a truth is not to live; but to live is to know Truth itself.

In all of the recognition of that which has been overcome, the most difficult fight remains ahead of all of us. To overcome the self, the constant pull of the world spinning in circles around us; reaching out and yanking us toward it like some overpowered graviton. The self is a powerful thing when you come face to face with the megalomania which is the culmination of defeating death with one decisive blow. We become reckless. Things spiral out of control and enjoyment becomes an accessible part of our weakness. I remember my first month of recovered health post-transplant being a month filled with audacity and challenge. I looked the world in the eyes and asked what else it could possibly throw at me.

It is just this recklessness that can destroy us for a second time. The second coming of an Invincibility Complex. We must learn to heed our own words in such a case, and to expose ourselves once more to the concept of humility. Fighting off death is not the only thing we must to in this life to do right by the ones we love. We must also live well, and do everything in our power to prevent its unwelcome return. Never lose sight of the humility that can keep hope alive within you, for the moment you think you have succeeded you are beyond a use for hope and humility. You find yourself complete, and this is something we can never be.

The human condition is one such that our journey is never complete in this life. One thing I have always tried to stand by is that kindness, hope, and humility are the primary goals I wish to achieve. Exactly one year ago today I returned home from Cleveland Clinic for the final time. I lost sight of these ideas for a short time when I returned home, but I began to understand once more.  To love truly is to live, and to do this we must remain humble and true to the kindnesses we share. To forget this is to risk the entirety of this second life I have waited so long to find, or to lose it completely. I have never felt so alive as I do now; however, if I have learned anything since I first arrived home, it is that the most valuable things in this life are love and kindness. Even more so than breath.

Update From Breathing Easy!

anniversary_1Dear Readers,
This is a trifle late as regards timing and recognition, but the anniversary post is looming. Gloaming, rather – as the anniversary of my transplant approaches its dusk. I don’t like to post as much as I used to post because…well…to put it simply…there is no dramatic thrust to my memoir anymore. There is something amazing about being a part of the downfall of a man such as I was two years ago. Something that pulls a reader in. Something that emphasizes the pathos and the intensity of the inward fight for life and love. This is something I, and all of humanity, understand all too well.

What amazes me about humanity is the intrinsic ability to see life for what it is worth and continue to sympathize after the suppression and defeat of Death itself.  Death. A character in my memoir whom you will see much of from now on. People continue to click on my site, and read the reaffirmation of life that I have come to scream into the skies and the ears of all those who might listen. At the end of the day we must understand that living a fulfilling life is not something which we do to please the aesthetic sensibilities of those who may judge us; but to do what is right by that which lies within our hearts and spirits. Are minds are for naught, for they continuously judge us for failures in others’ eyes – but ask your spirit what it may do under the intensity of the gaze of Hope himself.

When Time comes knocking for its own distinct reckoning, I say to it: “My discharge date was August 29th, my dear friend – and not until that day will I stand in recognizance of my anniversary.” I respect Death and Time as noble foes, but Life itself is a stronger ally than any enemy can ever defy. To know life is to know love, and to know love is to know BSR, truth, and discipline. I will do something amazing in this world…even if it takes me a lifetime. That is a choice, and not a gift. A choice you can make, and you can take your blessings as you may. Your spirit will guide you, surely. However, your future is yours. Force it. Fight for it. It takes time and it seems like an eternity, but there is no end to the goodness we can humbly place into this world.

So, Readers, find me here some time around the 29th. Perhaps before – a preemptive strike. Or perhaps a few days after – a reflection and retrospection. I will see you then, and I hope that you are full of Hope. You are loved, and I am full of gratitude.

Love,

Gabe

The Choice to Live

add-12            These past weeks and months have been something from which I shall learn and benefit, always. I have known love and loss, rejection and acceptance. I have known beauty and the absence of beauty, without knowing the tainted touch of ugliness. Now there is something so precious and beautiful in my life. In the end, sense comes through the choice to find happiness; and then grabbing on and never letting it go again. I have spoken to thousands about why life is amazing, and I have tasted the spectacular glory of that which names itself accomplishment. In the midst of this I have known rejection from jobs, rejection of jobs, and some sense of failure. But, alas, I then remember that I was only born ten months ago, and I don’t feel so bad.

Life is a battle of perspectives. True happiness comes in a subjective moment of lucidity, in which one simply makes the choice to embrace what they have and never let it go. Risks must be taken and I think that this pays well in emotion. Waits must also be adhered to. For I have waited thirty years, waxed contemplative for ten years, yet I have only just now seen the heart of the true meaning of love. Life is a conceptualization of that which is adjustable/adaptable/applicable to our own heart, and no more in our  mind. For so long..for SO long…my mind has been turning my heart off. I apologize to all of you. Turn your minds off on occasion and turn nothing on save that last organ…your beating heart…like a clock ticking away at the seconds…your heart is counting down to naught but freedom. I have spent so much time in my mind…so much time…

I now have a new comprehension of what it means to have begun to live for the first time. Find love that matches the solar flares of your heart’s content, match them, and then meet them. Seek a sunset with your arms open to the world’s beauty, without for one moment considering why it is so astounding in its scope. I have never been able to break down the walls and the occupancy of the fear of vulnerability which possessed me from the beginning to the end. However, the dynamic presented by just such a contextual labor is one which must be envied and sought after. I have overcome, and life has taken on a new form of gesture and contemplation; a new meaning. Love with all of your being, just generally love – openly, honestly, completely. Love the homeless, love the unfortunate; love the indoctrinated, and  love the innocent. It is all a reflection of how well we know how to love our own self. Anyone in this world can be cruel and angry, while the truly honorable may sacrifice their lives for an enemy.

This world is premised upon the precarious precipice of emotional skepticism and reluctant disciplines.  It is within each of us to change that. The world is one which we must approach with naught but love in our hearts. This burden is on us exclusively. How did one such as myself come to find that life was more valuable than the collective commiseration that comes through the varying degrees of palatable sadness? I simply chose to do so. I chose the path I took. Find hope within you. It is there! I had a very close friend who said to me three days before he died: “I give. I give up. I can’t, Gabe…I just can’t do this anymore.” He lost hope, and abandoned love; and the world is lesser for the absence of his presence.

The moving premise here is that the choice to live rests within each of us. Some of us are not sick, and to live means something completely unique: to find your peace, or embrace your purpose. Take your life, and make it your own; travel the depths inside of you before you seek to immerse yourself within the world’s own. You may notice that this blog is now called “Breathing Easy.” I am reborn. I have taken my new life, and I have overcome whatever obstacles a transplant hoped to present. I don’t care if I reject and die twenty minutes ago. I loved. I lived. The interesting thing about the transplant process is that so many people have low expectations. “Well it will amount to f(x)…” But no, no. No. It will amount to whatever the hell you say  it will. Wake up one morning and say: “today is mine…and so is forever.” And take it.  Reach out with your mind and all of the power of your spirit and tear your body to pieces until it is strong enough to make this transplant worth it. Reach out before your transplant and fight like a lion, and let yourself know you can be invincible when it is all over if you’re smart and strong. You will know love. You will know life. I know love. I know life. But within you shines a brighter light yet. Just choose. Choose to turn it on…and choose to live. There is something which comes after. When the dam breaks and the water begins to flow – the trees do not fall, the cities do not drown, and the damage is naught to be found; the rushing forth of the water only shows us how dry the banks of our rivers had grown. The spirit grows dehydrated in the cold grasp of despair and neglect – let the waters rush forth.

One year ago, nearly…god…one year…I was sitting in a bathroom at Cleveland Clinic with my wonderful mother shaving my greasy, sick head. I remember the feeling of clippers skidding across my head in a tiled and darkened bathroom. Grinding clippers to remind me that I was insufficient each time they crossed the apex of my silly scalp. The buzzing sound, the chair in the bath because I couldn’t stand, and a long leash of tubing sending six liters of oxygen into me by measures. Each time a clump of hair fell, grimy with the souring filth of an unhygienic sickness, it landed with a small yet deafening slap. I would stand up and brush off my shame, and wait for more. I would wait for a nurse just to walk to the bathroom so that they could hold me upright, placing a rebreather on my face at 15 liters just to make the ten foot walk from my bed. I would live and breathe hope while I waited to know whether I could live or die. But even then I was alive.

Living was a choice. Living is something inside of you; your mind, your spirit. Over the course of the passing year since the day of my rebirth, I have been trying so hard to make up for thirty years of being closed off from a world filled with opportunities. And I am more alive now than I have ever been. I have been drowning in a sea of delight, activity, adventure,  the fruits of experience applied to the facilitation of learning and acquisition of wisdom.  But something became clear to me as I was abandoning all caution and living like there was nothing standing in the way of my rendezvous with eternity that it was not the occurrences which were bringing me to life – it was the choice I made in my heart to seek them out. I could have been just as alive from the thick sickness and infection-soaked fabrics of the chair I called my home.  I was happy to be sure; learning…hopeful. I was experiencing wonderful things within myself as I developed a wisdom and knowledge of self to prepare my heart for an uncertain future and a fight to stay alive – but I was not allowing myself to live because I had no access to the magnificent world passing me by. No scent of spring leaking through a slightly opened window with the gentle push of geosmin permeating the air with a petrichor longed for always, no drives in the sunsets. But I did have what I needed, and I find myself wondering now whether there was more I could have done to stay alive.

I breathe deeply now, and I live with greater depth yet. My life is changing now, and my world has expanded greatly – surely I know now what it means to be alive. I have chosen to make use of that life and to relish its tastes and scents. Life in this incarnation was out of reach to me before without question, so my message is twofold: sickness and happiness can coincide to make your spirit rich and healthy, but you still have a choice to make about living, and; when you stand before the looming spectre of a surgery so imposing and intimidating as an organ transplant you can look it right in the eye and say, “I do not fear you, for it is the light behind you which truly shines bright.”

No sick man is alone in the choice to live. We can all go for walks and see nothing, simply exercise and be alive. Or, we can go on a walk filled with wonderment, stopping and smelling the lilacs as they bloom and fall flitting from the tips of their delicate branches…staring into the vast expanse of a sky so blue that it almost seems like animation…walking out at night and thrusting a fist high into the air to shout at the stars: “I am coming for you!” We all have the privilege to be alive, but so few take the honor of being able to live.

I am healthier now than I have thought I could ever be, and my PFTs have registered higher than I was told the400673_10101073660173415_2008466710_ny ever would, ringing in at an FEV1 of 102%. This is something I was eager to disprove, and I fought to do so. I decided to live. To live need not be a choice to find pleasures of the flesh; only a choice to find the best of what it is that you have within you, harness it, and feed it until it grows strong – then to give that part of yourself to the world completely. I have tried so hard to do this, and I will do it again every day for the rest of my life. I fight, I push, and I don’t lose. Someday I will die. But on this day, I will be fighting so hard that someone will have to drag me into the next life. I choose to live.

Every step I take now has the volumes written by the life I have led to guide my foot onward. I now know that I am in a position to also find that pleasure in life and to be a part of it, as well as to truly live. My heart is no longer my own for the first time in my life, yet with my spirit I am completely at one. When  I see who I stand beside I know love and truth. When I see where I am and what I am doing I know gratitude and am humbled, as I know I am in the presence of the truly beautiful. This is the most important thing I could ever have done, to open up my heart and mind and make the choice to not just fight for life – but to live the one I had. To live the one I had by giving the best of what I have become away and continuing to grow, by embracing what I am. I am breathing easy now, and I breathe easy for another; I breathe easy for the world.

I focus on obtaining knowledge to this day, I focus on getting healthier and stronger, I focus on finding something similar to enlightenment for my spirit – but I have learned the most important lesson of all; give all of what I have right back to the world which taught it to you. Give it back with the best of what you are, love the steps you take, and explore the depths of your heart. Fight to become stronger, and give your growing strength back to the world which required you to become strong.  Forget that you are merely alive for a moment, and cast out your routine. Live instead. I have seen Death and looked him in his eyes so many times, that I began to think it was being alive that was important. I was fooled into thinking loving life was the same as living life. But this fine line separates two concepts of great difference. It is important, and we should all fight to appreciate and keep our lives. But there’s more. The fight makes you strong, but to what end? Take the best of what you are, and live.

Update from Breathe Easy: The Precursor to the Birth of Breathing Easy

dream-landscapes-8Hello Love of my Life, Beloved Readers, and Loves I know Thee Not,

There has been an insufferable lull in posts on this site in the last several months. Things have been growing in the right direction, and the course of my healing is completing at a nice clip.  I value the readership of you all and I wish you Godspeed in your endeavors as I take one more week off from composition of this particular memoir.

I have hit a unique place…one in which all things make sense. I was in the local newspaper…I have known what love truly means, and I have grown  as a man and a person. The recovery is complete with definitive insistence upon itself. I will improve, from this point, on willpower alone. And…yes!…I will improve. I promise thee, I shall not relent. Love commandeth me embrace the health of a man of spiritual fortune.

Nevertheless…before I get to the classic form of Breathe Easy rambling and digression, I would like to stop short. The next post changes the dynamic of the site, and I will share it with you next weekend. I love you all and your unique contribution to this earth is not unnoticed. Stay strong, and worship nothing outside of happiness. Life, my dearest friends…is magnificent. Love…this defines you. EMBRACE LIFE…and do it fast! You now have a glorious spring in which to bathe in the rust-scented smells of a rain, or the crisp smells of a burning branch reminiscent of the autumn passed.

Breathe, friends…as I have only learned how to do for a few weeks…LEARN…learn to breathe, my friends. Life is worth living!

See you with a post proper next week!

LOVE,

~Gabe

The Search For the Self

self-discovery                There was a moment in my life recently when I realized that my struggle was not one which could be conceived of as complete; my adventure not yet concluded. With great health comes a series of minor reevaluations and recalibrations that must accompany the growth of the spirit in all of its depth and immensity. I have evaluated my quest for bodily purity, and simply opted out. I broke my sobriety in December, and I broke my pledges much the same. My quest for pushing my health to new heights has finally reached the plateau, my future rests fully within my hands, and I am prepared to make it my own. The difference between physically-exclusive disciplines and the place at which I have arrived is not one of purity as I had so long presumed to think, but one of intentions and discipline. I am the same Gabe Poland, but now I understand the value of society for society’s sake – and approaching it with an embrace and a kiss on the cheek is far superior in its capacity to enrich than that of a curtsy. There is great passion in love of life, and there is much life to live. I now refuse to set any of it aside… Any. One. Thing. I will taste the entirety of the platter which society has prepared for me. I will live life like a lion in the wilderness, and love the world as a child in deference to its wonderment.

There was a point some time prior to New Years Eve, a point which boasted some sort of unfamiliar clarity which has since dispersed in the wind. This point was a reckoning. A piece of my future finding the roots of my recent past, and digging them up. I found myself at an impasse: do I continue on the same path of corporeal cleansing because this is what I have been doing, or move on from it? What I found was something like coming to the edge of the precipice, looking down, and wondering if we should jump. That which is static is a comfort, but my heart no longer marches alongside this drummer. I need something new, and I found myself still treating my body and mind as though they were the belongings of illness, and not the spirit. So I jumped.

An interesting thing happens when you take your spiritual introspection and direct it outward. You become open, and have one crucial and indispensable revelation: it was never about you at all. My life has been lived under the thatched roof of kindness and love for a long time now, but that roof leaks. There is a sweetened taste to that roof when you can patch it with something tangible. While I was sick, I was alone. The sicker I became, the more people began to leave my side; yet happiness did not elude me, and my understanding was alive and well. There is a  reason for this, and it had nothing to do with finding myself.  The critical apex of my spiritual growth came from the genesis of my love for the world that was not me. To know the self is to open up that path, surely; but to access true happiness, you must walk it.

It seems to me to be something like this: the human condition is such that we are something of a jigsaw puzzle. We are a perfect fit, but one piece remains elusive. Alas, this piece is missing in all of us. We begin to feel that the piece must exist within us, somewhere, and we look inward for definition. The borders of the puzzle have filled in, and the design is clear, but there is one piece missing…and it is a doorway. A gateway. The beauty of this is that you don’t have to fill it in with some predetermined source, but you get to craft this piece; to build it with your own hands and determine your own fate. Take the empty doorway, your threshold to the future, and fill it with faces – with love.

There was a very distinct moment when I fell ill that I knew I needed to find out who I was as a man, where I stood as a soul, and what my goal in this life truly was. So many hours spent with my pen as my sole guide through the darkness, yet only into the Inferno did my Virgil guide me. I spent great hours meditating on what I could become, and what might be missing for years; which predates the site, as well as my adulthood. What became clear to me at the apex was that this piece was not mine at all, there was nothing left inside. This piece belonged to the world that embraced and surrounded me.

I am loved and appreciated, but I found that this was not something which defined my happiness. Perhaps to be loved was my ultimate goal when I began this journey, but it was simply not the answer. To be loved, alone, is not enough to define the heart. You must find refuge in your own love: love of others, love of family, and love of loving. The output of my own heart was the genesis of the input as well, and through it I found solace. We are all – always – loved; but we find our lives lacking, nevertheless. Our magnificence fades only in the absence of our reciprocity, yet to love a world which we know not is the source of a true and honest happiness.

My stress was life itself at the beginning; a nascent quest to find the definition of my heart on precarious footing. My bills began to stagnate, unpaid, as I grew too ill to work and attend to them; the putrid odor of failure and regret permeating my heart. It was at this time that I knew what I needed was not a loan, or assistance; what I needed was to redefine the direction of my spirit – a renewal. I was terrified of the looming spectre of Death…at first. I was terrified, as well, that Death may actually come to me to extract its due penance from my wretched past. I would often wake up and cry, or simply stare with great emptiness into the dirtying glass of my windows; at a loss. I felt I was entitled to so much more. I felt that I had accomplished enough to be worth something. I was mistaken, and I approached it improperly. I was entitled to nothing, of course. I am not a good man, and I should consider myself vastly more fortunate than I truthfully do. Nor was I a good man then. When the world around us continues to pulse as does the beating heart – one man alone cannot demand remuneration for his accomplishments; for if he so demands, he has truthfully accomplished nothing. He has not grown in his spirit, he has not learned. And so stood I, naked, before God and sickness; to receive judgment.

At the end of it all, when the heat of this struggle came to its most embittered flourish, I found that love of others would echo within my heart. What made me relent in my obsessions, and the fear of that which consumes the fire within our hearts was the realization that at the climax of our struggles, it is the world around us which provides the greatest source of strength. So much of our heart and mind focuses on that which may destroy us that we cower in fear, and we forget to pay homage to that which will bring us to life.

Within the borders of the jigsaw that is our spirit, there is a missing piece for absentee friends, and absentee family. There is a missing piece for sickness long passed us, and a missing piece for thousands of dollars of unpaid debt kicking down our doors. But this does not define us, because the doorways are ours to fill as we please. To those of you on your journey of the spirit, and traveling the winding path through the forest of self-discovery: replace those doors with faces, my friends; and may your love of the world beckon the crescendo of your spirit’s symphonic obeisance to your heart.

And so it was that which drove me to become what I wanted to become – who I wanted to be – was my love of others, and my love of everything that is. To be loved is always something we take for granted, but is essential to our being. Cherish always those who love you, and never let them forget that they are appreciated. Yet, in the absence of being loved, there is fulfillment in our own hearts. To love gives me an essential purpose that being loved cannot. When we love something – anything – we pack its essence deep within us, and it colors who we are. But, because loving is self-determined, we can choose who we are at our discretion. Even though it is possible to turn these lights on or off at will, what remains critical to me is the fact that I made the decision to renew at a very specific moment in my life; for a very specific reason. From that moment on, I was in control of my own destiny because I chose to love before anything else.

Our innate capacity to change this world is something at which we can truly marvel. One should never try to find the self internally, for we will not be there. Search not for the self within the self.  No one soul among us could succeed in this task. We forget so easily that in such a case, the person we are searching for is a person who is searching; that is who we are at the time we embark on our internal journey, a person searching. The person which we are at the time we venture out on this endeavor is going to be forever lost, yet searching always. Look outward, eternally. It is much like being lost in a large place; an amusement park. If both of the people looking for each other are wandering through the throngs of people, guessing and searching desperately, they will forever be seeking the other in the masses. Neither must your search and your self unite in their questing. One must stand firm – as a rock – until your heart ascends.

It is a treacherous task to find the self without knowing the extent of your heart; for it is the fire that burns within each of us that might light our way on this journey. Humanity is a community, as one; and so, we can be at one with this community. Alas, our selfish journey is one which might beckon the light, yet allow it to ever shine elsewhere. And, lo, we shall lose our way; and our Virgil is as so much dust. You see, it is the world we must find, not our self – for we have been here the entire time.

It is the little things, my loves. The little things which light me upon my quest and path. The smallest things can bring me from the brink of desperation and stultification – the smallest fire can set me ablaze…bring me back to life. My heart opens because something stands firm as a beacon, and within its beauty do I bathe. A single flake of the purest snow, the spirit of a kindred heart, the soft setting sun, the golden wheat of the autumnal harvests; or perhaps simply the portrait of love painted by the distant futures and admiration alone. And so, because I know in my heart that the world, in all of its magnificence – with all of its loving, warm smiles – is as one. Because I have come to learn this, I know in my heart and in my soul that I can rediscover my heart each and every day. As the sun rises, so does it set with nobility and love. I offer a world my entire self, and I have learned that the most important thing in my life has nothing to do with my offering at all. The most determinative factor in the exultation of my spirit is through the hearts of those I love – and not my own. I have a heart waiting to beat for anything – something – anyone…always. But that heart knows that the self is an external force, and that the definition of its solace was the recognition of the love of a world which once could help not that it passed me by.

I am here now. I will not be leaving any time soon. And I alive. I am lost, yet found so easily through this world in which I fly through. The street lights a blur, and the shining of the glorious stars shifting in proximity. My self is discovered through infatuation of life itself. Life. Love of life and love of others. I love my parents, for they are my heart. I love my friends, for they are my spirit. I love my acquaintances, for they are my causation. And to those whom I know not, I love thee with great love – for it is you who give me possibilities. Know thyself, for through the world may you change the heart of that within which you live.

I could never have a portal into the struggle of my readers, but I can assure that I will offer great love to anonymous faces throughout this world. I understand that my demographic is unknown to me, but that we are all on some search for the meaning of that with which we should happen to define our future selves. There is something great in the conquest of the self, but something greater in the conquest of the definition of that self through love alone. You can find yourself in this world as a mere person amongst the throngs of the plethora – yet love yourself through the recognition that your love of those within your grasp are those within your heart. Love need not be romantic, it need only be the answer to your emptiness. So often in the CF community do we contemplate our worth by the calculation of our symmetry to the normality of those who walk amongst us without a cough or a strain, but I warn you of this: we are unique. We have the blessing of power; the power to fight – and the power to win.

Kindness is the vehicle by which we may express our love, and we must always consider the benefit of the perpetuity of this kindness on those amongst which we revel and live. I found this homeless man in a city somewhere south of Findlay, standing on a corner with a filthy, black gym bag. The bag had nothing in  it, which you could tell by the way it collapsed when he picked it up. Yet, doubtless, there was one thing in there which he held precious. It is a symbol for those of us with such great fortune; a symbol of how much we have that he did not. A state of being, such that we could fill an entire gym bag and say to ourselves: “I feel as though these are not all of my things!” Yet he would say: “I am fortunate to simply have this bag!” I bought this man lunch and coffee, and asked only his name. But his surprise should be a warning to us. We must open our hearts to everyone, and not simply our self. We must love universally, and live with compassion. No one man should be surprised at our kindnesses…he should be able to expect them.

Our battle of perspective is a difficult one, yet symbolic of our task at hand as to the extent of our kindness and the exultation with which we express to the world our gratitude. Yet, alas, there is great kindness within each of us; and from this kindness may we find a river of happiness flowing eternally. The waters crisp, the temperature warm enough so that the world may find comfort within. The stream calms as we flow down it, for the rapids are subject to naught but the love in our hearts – and yet they may be subjugated by the kindness which we project. The world is not our oyster, but it is – indeed – our definition.

Wheresoever we should happen to find ourselves, we often seem to want to find this thing. This spectacular revelation and epiphany within the borders of our jigsaw. The missing piece…the doorway. We require of ourselves the foundation of that doorway’s boundaries and seek the insight of its missing piece before we will allow ourselves to seek the soul we have waiting within. I have cast my oars upon the shallows and depths of this river – albeit in a different boat, as always. We will ever find ourselves saying we must complete this journey alone, to find our missing piece in isolation. But here I stand, arms outstretched…beseeching you to look outward. You need not have CF, and you need not be ill – you simply need have a journey. I encourage you to love this world for all its faults and glories, for its beauty and corruption…for its magnificence alone.

I come before you on bended knee. Without demand of reciprocity, and without expectations, calculations, or loaded sentiments. I come before you to plead that you love this life for life alone – for one reason – because I have learned first hand the cost of sitting on your heart only due to the fact that you lack the courage to act. To speak; to scream at the precipice – “I will take your stars, and your faults. I will take your love, and your loss. I will love Life, and all that Is.” There is no way for me to know the struggle of the soul of another, but I do know that – no matter who you are – this world needs you with great urgency. You, my dear reader, shine a bright light into this world, and a I believe that we will all feel the pulse of your revelation.

Sobriety, celibacy, and frequent meditation were essential parts of the makeup of who I have become.  Yet, at the end of the battle with Death himself, I have realized that they were naught but disciplines in a complexity which I cannot comprehend with coherence or clarity.  Two years alone in a sickroom, dying alone and without recourse, I realized one thing – it is not what we do, but it is the world outside of us which composes the breadth and magnitude of our hearts…the voluminous chapters which our love may write when the world comes down to necessity or failure. In the end it is not our discipline which completes us. Our disciplines and meditations are naught but guideposts along the island of our internal Purgatory. We will find nothing here, except the gateway to that which may offer us Heaven’s ascendance…but only the gateway.

Live your life passionately, and pursue your arts. Live your life in a constant state of wonderment, pursue your love and astonishment. Pursue beauty, and live your life with love. Pursue your disciplines, and live your life with strength. But please, for my love of my readers and my love of this wonderful world – please – pursue your life with a fire blazing in your heart, and love always.

To those whom I know, I thank you for impacting me in a positive way. Your kindness has changed who I am, and I pray only that before I have gone from it that I may change this world with great conviction. Perhaps this post is a misguided attempt to return the favor of the love you have shown me, for it is this which has awoken my heart and soul. Perhaps it is the honest intention of my heart. With or without guidance, you will amaze this world – I believe that with my whole heart, whomsoever you may be. I will always be here, writing of my journey – health or rejection. I can promise one thing. That all good and bad things will come…and pass. But, nevertheless, we are all capable of something amazing. Your strength will guide the fire in your heart, and you only need access it. When you are ready to shine, the world will know. But, SHINE. For you, my friends, I pray that you may find your missing piece. May you find it! Through love of the world may we all define our hearts. And through it all, I say “thank you”…and I send my heart to the entire world. People are my strength, and the world…that is my heart.