In the summers of times gone by, my grandmother and me used to lie in the grass somewhere and look up into the blue skies, watching cloud animals go by. Elephants and birds, ants and dragons, fish, I’ve seen them all, on their eternal journey across the firmament. And when there were no animals, we breathed. According to my grandmother, too little people did that. Breathe. Of course I breathe all my life. Let’s say I take eleven breaths per minute. Makes 660 breaths per hour, 15,840 per day, 5,781,600 per year, and given that statistics grant me a life span of 83.91 years, I will have taken 485,134,056 breaths before I finally stop. Since my grandmother stopped breathing, I think about this much more often. Then I notice breath leaving my nose. And I notice breath gently flowing back. I notice breath leaving my nose. And I notice breath gently flowing back. Again and again. I feel how my lungs fill up and how I inhale the world with every breath. Smells, sounds. When I close my eyes and focus on my breathing I can still see those cloud animals passing by, smell that summery green, feel the sun on my skin, hear bees hum and the breath of my grandmother lying next to me as she thought of the world she had inhaled in her life so far. Today, I love swimming. Under water, my breath flows out of my nose and the bubbles carry me through the water for a little while. I breathe smoothly, let the rhythm of my breathing determine the rhythm of my movements. With my fellow cloud animals I travel through blue skies, further and further, breathing the world. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. Until the last breath.
Claudia Tondl is a playwright and author in Vienna. Her works have been staged, published and critically acclaimed. | www.tondlschreibt.at