I tend to stick around my office in the late afternoon (and sometimes early evening) hours, because I'm pretty productive at that time of day. But today my brain was tired and the outdoors was beckoning, so I bailed right after my office hours ended.
It was the perfect day for a bike ride, so I quickly changed, consulted the map, and headed out. The route took me through city streets, complete with rush-hour traffic (not too bad though), past a pond or two, and finally onto quieter roads. The quieter roads had small rolling hills, and I soon found myself breathing hard, first from the exertion, then from the adrenaline of coasting faster and faster. It was hard work and I pushed myself. But it felt so wonderful to just be outside, breathing the early evening end-of-summer air. Even during the worst of the hills, when it felt like my lungs would explode, I concentrated on my breathing and felt myself relax and calm down.
Later, after the sun had set, I went out into the yard for some reason or another---and just stopped for a moment. I was struck---by the coolness, by the sounds of the crickets and other assorted nocturnal bugs, and by the darkness. I sat down where I was, just for a few minutes, to breathe in the night air. And again, I felt myself immediately calm down and relax.
Life can get so hectic that we can, in a sense, forget to breathe. I am glad that I had some subtle reminders today of the value of taking a few minutes to pause, breathe, and relax.