Yesterday and today I enjoyed some pleasant driving in the afternoon, a rarity in these times. I do not wish to brag, for those who for whatever reason have been less able to travel, since in all cases I was driving because I had some sort of business to attend to or to return from that business. What made it especially pleasant for me was that it was the first time for quite some time that my longsuffering car has felt like it had the chance to breathe and enjoy the ride. A bit more than a week ago I got a large box in the mail that was a catalytic converter for my car. Now, for some time my car has been wheezing and not doing particularly well, and I have been sensitive to its decreasing power, viewing it as more of a breathing problem and doing a process of elimination to figure out what parts of the car related to getting enough airflow.
Yet life has a way of providing surprises. For example, the catalytic converter was not a perfect match because it had a flange, and this required some effort to make things work out well. The efforts to increase airflow also required the replacement of one of the gaskets, which was found to be having trouble after the first catalytic converter had been replaced. The most interesting surprise, though, was that my little toaster had two catalytic converters, which seems strangely excessive for a car with the modest performance of my vehicle. When we found out that both of them were blocked and were able to clean things out, the car miraculously was able to drive again well, now that the air was flowing through it freely, which is admittedly not as common an experience as it should be.
I can empathize with my car. One of the characteristic problems that I have struggled in my life is the difficulty of getting air to circulate freely. Because of a susceptibility to infections of the nose as well as frequent nosebleeds and a high amount of allergies, my poor nose and sinus passages do not always far the best. And that is something I recognize among many people that I know as well, which can make a time like this when every sneeze or blow of the nose sends fears that one has the dreaded Coronavirus somewhat grimly humorous when one has nothing stronger than some fierce but rather ordinary seasonal allergies. Life works better when you can have a good airflow and can circulate that oxygen through the system. That is true whether one is talking about we ourselves or the engines of our vehicles, even if many people are not going very far in them at present.
It has always been interesting as well for me to ponder how important breathing is in the music that I enjoy. Once, when I watched the band Train perform live when I still lived in the Tampa Bay area on their For Me, It’s You tour, their lead act was NeedToBreathe, whose music I enjoyed. One of my favorite songs of that time period as well was the beautiful and melancholy “Breathe (2 AM),” by Anna Nalick. Plenty of other songs relating to breathing from artists as diverse as Michelle Branch, Faith Hill, and Mat Kearney have deeply resonated with me. One common element that all of these songs have is a knowledge of the need that the simple act of breathing cannot itself be taken for granted, and sometimes we must pay attention to it so that we are able to get the energy we need to do think through whatever it is that has gotten us out of sorts. And sometimes we have to remember that it is not only we that have to circulate the air within us in order to work as well as we should.