A Sense of Place: The mind may think, but the body knows
A friend of mine wondered if she would be remembered after she died. An answer sprung up unprovoked from somewhere inside me: Of course, you will, I said. You will always be remembered like Julius Caesar is because some of the same molecules Caesar breathed you are inhaling right now. He is inside you, part of our shared humanity. That’s why none of us will be forgotten.
My mind thought the story I had told her to cheer her up was a gross exaggeration. But my body, like an indigenous shaman, knew better, casting a spell over me, which I only discovered later when I took a walk: My beloved woods had magically come alive; the air I was breathing became a fortune teller revealing my past.
As I walked by a fallen log by a twin towering oak tree, I remembered being there with my father breathing the same air now he was breathing when he had showed me on that fallen log how to skin a fisher I had shot stalking my chickens, 50 years ago.
I remember my mother and me picking blueberries on the adjoining 21 acres of land that my father bought for $100.00 cash, which they later gave to me, upon which I built the house in which I am now sitting. On the day in question, I remember we were terrified after stumbling upon a bear, also berry hunting, both of whom I hold so close, breathing the same air molecules as they did, 70 years ago.
Then I catch a glimpse of the rascally deer who are decimating my rhododendrons. I welcome them as descendants of the deer my grandfather, a real animal lover, used to commune with, sitting on his favorite stump nearby. I rejoice breathing in the same air molecules that coursed through the deer and my grandfather, who was also named Jean, 100 years ago.
Under my spell, past and present merged as ghosts of my family’s past gathered with me under that same red oak tree where mom, dad, and my brother’s ashes now rest. The branches of the trees creak in the cold, and my friend Raven, croaks as he flies by. No longer mortal, the world and I merge as one.
Getting home, I googled the alleged story about how we all share Caesar’s breath. Eureka! Science has confirmed it! According to BBC Science Focus Magazine: “A breath seems like such a small thing compared to the Earth’s atmosphere, but remarkably, if you do the math, you’ll find that roughly one molecule of Caesar’s air will appear in your next breath”1 — and one molecule from Cleopatra, Einstein, your grandmother, and even that bear in the woods.
None of us will ever be forgotten.
1 https://www.sciencefocus.com/planet-earth/are-we-really-breathing-caesars-last-breath/1 https://www.sciencefocus.com/planet-earth/are-we-really-breathing-caesars-last-breath/
Originally published at http://jeanstimmell.blogspot.com.