Room to breathe

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors, Powell

As anyone within a 500-mile radius can tell you, Dan and I have a beautiful new grandson. We’ve been keeping the airways hot with frequent visits to California, staying a fair amount of time to help with the baby. Our son and his wife, in the throes of new parenthood with all the sleeplessness, time, and energy that requires, are always glad to see us.

Last time we visited, our daughter-in-law said that Dan and I give them space to love the baby. By taking away some of the daily tasks, they can catch their breath and see the miracle in front of them.

Perfect words. In the contentious world in which we now live, what would happen if we gave each other room to breathe? Are we really all that different?

Dan and I have been to many places; we love to travel. When we return home, our favorite memories are the people. At the end of a long day touring Morocco, the Muslim tour guide asked me, “Are you happy, Little Sister?”

Pottery bear

While visiting the Acoma Indian Reservation in New Mexico, I burst into tears when I realized the artist of the pottery I was admiring looked exactly like a recently deceased friend. Gently placing a pottery bear in my hand, the lady explained that her tribe considers bears as healers and protectors.

In Istanbul as we were leaving a carpet demonstration, and I stopped to snap a picture of a line of beautiful rugs. As I took the picture, an employee struck a cheesy pose and said, “That’ll be one euro!” I said, “You and everybody else!”

Walking in a remote mountain village in Cypress, I saw a distinguished elderly man standing on his porch watching us. I mimed taking a picture, he nodded yes. I gave him a curtsey and he gave me a bow.

Riding a bus in Malta, the bus music was old American Western TV shows’ theme songs. “Bonanza,” “Rawhide,” “Wagon Train” – all there from 5,369 miles away.

In a carpet store in Istanbul with joking salespersons.

As humans, we don’t necessarily need words. We have courtesy, humor, kindness – many things that don’t require stringent belief systems or political views. We can find what we share. We can pause, understand, and give others room to breathe.

Cindy Arp retired from Knox County Schools as a teacher and librarian. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell. And she goes hiking once a week – even in a forest fire.


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