The Measure of a Breath
How do you begin to measure, the life that someone has lived?
The moments of elation, the friends made along the way, the hardships survived.
Persistent as we are, to categorically organize the moments we endure,
Measuring up our lives on a scale, reaching numbers for ourselves to reassure.
Distance travelled, numbers reached, hours, months and long years spent,
The additions, subtractions and tallies lost along the way, what has it all meant?
Are we to measure by the meaning of the number of friends we’ve met?
Or by the lives to which we gave meaning to, a spark in their hearts we set.
Can we measure by the sum of all the profits, compounded through the years?
Or by heart-stopping moments of bravery we had, overcoming our greatest fears?
Measuring perhaps by the places we’ve visited, traversing widely across the globe,
Or the places that visited us in these moments, immersive moments we have known.
In a seeming race to accumulate the highest number, until the final moment left,
Time has marched on all along, a ticking heartbeat, a thief so deft.
When that final moment approaches, what does all of your life lived come down to?
No more time left to inflate your numbers, nothing left to do.
In that constant running of the race, did you ever pause a moment,
To feel the wind, smell the rain, listen to the words your friends had spoken?
Did you ever see the sky a canvas, to the day’s parting spectacle?
Or were you adding up the things you did and didn’t do, calculating to the decimal?
Had all of the moments you were on the Earth, been spent and never lived?
Have you only ever received and never known the joy to give?
Had you ever been lost in the beauty of a moment, that takes your breath away,
Ever felt the stillness of a quiet memory, in which you felt forever you could stay?
All through these moments, we meticulously attempt to measure,
Are the very things that make our lives each our own, life’s very treasures.
The times our hearts raced, or calmed to the stillness of distant thunder,
Our minds captivated by constant learning, held in fascinated wonder.
Times of happiness, that could never be weighed or measured,
Only the heartbeats to mark our joy, the accompaniment to these living treasures.
The pounding in our chests, when we endured horrors, or trials too hard to bear,
The despair when at times it seemed, our bodies were robbed of any air.
Times when our hearts had broken, the fibres strained to the very ends,
When it seemed our tested beings, could never be whole again.
Still through these moments, the times of trials and great joy and of peace,
We found strength and hope and something more, the seemingly simple act to breathe.
Though each spark of life so very different, unique in so many ways,
To each their own hardships and happiness, the ways in which they live their days.
Something we all share, the opportunity of a breath,
Each one measuring the moments in our lives, not ticking off the time we have left.
In each breath is the occasion, to rise to make it your own,
Embracing the emotions, times and chances of the moment, right down to your very bones.
So when you take each breath, with each one live that moment,
Feel the entirety of the flow of air, to each wonder, your mind do open.
For perhaps each life, from its peaks to its very depths,
Is the way we rise to the occasion, of the measure of a breath.
A 2020 graduate of University of St Andrews, Scotland (Biology BSc), Natalie is now completing a Masters in Business at the University of St. Andrews. Natalie competes on the horse polo and ballroom dancing teams in addition to taking part in golf, sailing and reeling. Natalie began writing poetry when her mum read Hailstones and Halibut Bones to her at a very young age. Natalie’s work has been featured in North American and Canadian poetry competitions hosted by Creative Communication, The Poetry Institute of Canada, The Royal Canadian Legion and Polar Expressions Publishing. Her work has also appeared in the internationally curated anthology by Wingless Dreamer and online journal You Might Need to Hear This. Natalie has been featured in The Parliament Literary Journal's inaugural issue as the Ekphrastic poetry competition’s Artist's Choice winner. Her work ‘Implosion’, has been published in the summer issue of The Parliament Literary Journal and ‘If You’re Being Me, Then Who’s Being You?’ has been published in the autumn 2021 issue. Most recently her work ‘The Voice Behind the Curtain’ has been published in the Parliament Literary Journal’s spring 2022 issue in May. Natalie has a great passion in writing to share messages in a rhyming form for all ages, that challenge perspectives, inspire innovation and allow for creativity.