How to breathe


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Find a tree willing to trade some oxygen for your carbon dioxide.

Start with one breath and see how it goes.

Vacuum cleaners make excellent coaches, since they have nothing useful to teach.

Sleep with your mouth closed so your breath can’t escape.

Cover your mouth when you yawn for the same reason.

Every breath is really the same breath, like a guest that keeps coming back.

Some people do other things while they breathe, but we don’t recommend this. Concentrate!

Public air may be free, but who knows who’s used it?

Breathe natural, odorless bottled air instead.

Some religious people may tell you that prayer is the original form of breathing, but they have it backwards.

Cold weather causes insanity—that’s why you see your breath at lower temperatures.

If pneumonia strikes, burrow into the leaf duff and practice breathing through your skin like a lungless salamander.

The lungs are nothing but wings that have lost their way.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

10 Comments


    1. Yes, I think some diagrams showing the important parts would be excellent. Labelled of course.

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      1. Yes, I’m not dismissing the idea — though I’m resisting the notion that I should be the one to provide such illustrations! I’d gladly collaborate with an illustrator.

        Reply

  1. You open our eyes to our most basic physical function and make us see how wondrous it really is. I really, really like this. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for reading. This comment actually helps me see what it is I’m trying to do here — particularly useful since I may have occasion to explain it next week in another forum. Cheers.

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  2. “The lungs are nothing but wings that have lost their way.” If you consider that light/energy and air are what essentially make our corporeal component, this line is, indeed, the peak of the metaphysical understanding of man. Following the logical conclusion of the Platonic formula for life (we are spirits trapped in ephemeral vessels), breath as we know it are the wings to the ultimate genesis, and the air beneath the wings that make us ascend Icarus-like. Thus, your line as humour but poetic nonetheless, aspires to fulfill its ontological (defining being) and epistemological (discovering knowledge) functions. And I am not even being hyperbolic. I like the series, Dave.

    Reply

    1. Hi Albert – I’m glad you’re liking the series. Any and all interpretations are welcome, but I personally reserve judgement on the wisdom or lack thereof in this instruction manual, which sometimes feels like an imperfect translation from another language.

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