Jan. 7th, 2004

jakebe: (Default)
I've noticed that it's a lot easier to notice yourself inhaling than it is to notice yourself exhaling. The air that's taken in is something foreign, external, marked by its differences. It's cold, or warm, or carries a certain smell that's not your own, and these are all the things you notice. The air that's pushed out, though, is a part of you, the same body temperature, the same scent that you've become accustomed to, and it's a lot more difficult to notice the rush of air over the skin and hair of your nostrils and lip. What's truly remarkable about this is that the inhalation and exhalation are made up of the same things; only the proportions and qualities change.

The same could be said for other stimuli as well. When someone else is having a bad day, and gives you a curt response or a rude gesture, it's this difference that you notice first. When someone cuts you off in traffic, or butts ahead of you in line, that person's actions are more often than not viewed as offensive. When we ourselves do these same things, there's always a reason to justify it. The proportions and qualities of the extinuating circumstances change, but in effect the actions themselves remain the same. A careless shove or a mindlessly tossed remark is still rude, but we're more sympathetic when we do it ourselves.

While the process of exhaling is automatic, the stimuli we throw out to the rest of the world doesn't need to be. All we have to do is pay attention.

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