Dither Me This is a weekly publication that presents current, old, spontaneous, or nonsensical musings for the reader to use as a writing prompt, discuss with a friend, lover, or to read and move on. Authors may present questions, creative processes, or thoughtful means to end the week; and while you may still be left staring at the walls, it is not without a new thought mulling the paint into iterative transformation. Thus we send waves into the electronic ether and see what is returned – extending a baton to the world, only a little afraid to let go.
7 – Breathe
with Patrick Hodge
“Breathe Patrick. Come on Patrick, please. Don’t hold your breath. Don’t. No. No. No Patrick…” Then I’d pass out, go limp in her arms – my mother on the brink of panic watching her toddler refuse to cry by holding his breath instead. I don’t remember doing it, but she would tell me these stories among others, how she’d have to take me to the hospital in the middle of the night when my asthma got too bad, when the inhaler wouldn’t work.
Growing up with asthma sucks. Exercise and allergen induced. My dad owned an amazing amount of cats and other furry animals. But I played with the cats everyday anyway. My step-mother was raised on a farm and that’s what you did. You had cats to kill the mice, and she also just loved cuddling with them. But we weren’t on a farm, and I was allergic.
Thankfully my dad had an obsession with indoor plants, like ferns, palm, fig, rubber. I remember he watered them every week, running the dirty-ass garden hose from outside into the house, standing there with Sperry Top-Siders and a robe. The fig leaves would hang over the couch, often touching you when you watched TV. But those plants – they saved me. Between the ages of 5 and 12, I would crawl between the cluster of pots when my asthma kicked in. My dad told me as a toddler that trees give oxygen, and during these times, I knew that all I needed was oxygen. So it was my safe haven and it offered space for stillness, for me to calm myself and regain my breath. Maybe it was a placebo effect being there; who knows whether there was that much more oxygen in that space. The oxygen concentration couldn’t have been that much different – I’m sure of it the more I think about it, but that doesn’t matter. It worked for me.
I think my affinity towards plants today draws from these early experiences. It’s interesting how you find all these parallels in life when you find that your passion is potentially sourced in them. They, straight and simple, make me feel better. As all nature does. But when I’m working on a farm or in the garden, I talk to them and sing to them when I’m pruning their leaves or up-potting them into bigger spaces to grow their roots. I treat them like children. There is no better way to cherish my ability to breathe, to live in wide open spaces, than to pay it forward through the care I give back to The Nature, for it is the reason I am even here.
Have you ever found yourself fighting to breathe? What methods do you use to calm yourself? Do you feel like you have a relationship with plants, whether it be house plants or the trees outside? Do you have memories of plants that might have influenced who you are today?
With a breath of fresh air,
Patrick Hodge enjoys his morning coffee and believes that humor is the best medicine. He can be found planting vegetables, trail running, or sussing moves on the cliffs of Colorado, occasionally writing when inspiration strikes or when his wife feeds him chocolate and tells him it’s good for him (writing, that is).
Inspired to respond? Leave thoughts below, in an email, or via Instagram with #dithermethis and tag @bivytales. We will share our favorites!
Interested in contributing to the column? We are always accepting submissions. Guidelines can be found here.