We Are the Air

     The following short excerpts are from the book The Sacred Balance by David Suzuki.  The author explains how air has ‘evolved’ over time, how it has shaped life on earth, and how it supports us perfectly.  Suzuki shows that we truly are the air we breathe.–April Moore

     “Air is a physical substance;  it embraces us so intimately that it is hard to say where we leave off and air begins.  Inside as well as outside we are minutely designed for the central activity of our existence–drawing the atmosphere into the centre of our being, deep into the moist, delicate membranous labyrinth within our chests, and putting it to use.”

     “Air exits your nose to go right up your neighbour’s nose.  In everyday life we absorb atoms from the air that were once a part of birds and trees and snakes and worms, because all aerobic forms of life share that same air (aquatic life also exchanges gases that dissolve back and forth at the interface between air and water).

     “Air is a matrix that joins all life together.  It is constantly changing as life and geophysical forces add and subtract constituents to the composition of air, and yet over vast stretches of time the basic composition of air has remained in dynamic equilibrium.  The longer each of us lives, the greater the likelihood that we will absorb atoms that were once part of Joan of Arc and Jesus Christ, of Neanderthal people and woolly mammoths.  As we have breathed in our forebears, so our grandchildren and their grandchildren will take us in with their breath.  We are bound up inseparably with the past and the future by the spirit we share.

        “Viewed over the long sweep of geological change, Earth’s atmosphere has been in constant flux, affecting and being affected by life itself.  But for several hundred thousand years, through ice ages and interglacial periods, the atmosphere has remained relatively static.  Oxygen has hovered around 21 per cent of the atmosphere, a propitious level, since 25 per cent oxygen could well ignite the atmosphere;  if the atmosphere contained only 15 per cent oxygen, it would be lethal to life.  Carbon dioxide and water vapour, which are greenhouse gases and are also conducive to photsynthesis, have kept the surface temperature of the planet within the limits of a comfortable 7 degrees Centigrade variation over the past 3 million years. . . . .Moving and turning above us, around us, within us is the invisible element that first animated the planet–the breath of life.”

     “Every breath is a sacrament, an affirmation of our connection with all other living things, a renewal of our link with our ancestors and a contribution to generations yet to come.  Our breath is a part of life’s breath, the ocean of air that envelops Earth.  Unique in the solar system, air is both the creator and the creation of life itself.”

One Response to “We Are the Air”

  1. Judy Says:

    This article is both lovely and profound, an intricate intermingling of the sacred and scientific. All the more reason to live in reverence for the earth and our fellow humans — past, present and future. This is paticularly timely in light of the current reports from China about how air pollution is affecting Olympic athletes. We are indeed all one.

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