On listening to audio book ‘Breath’, I realised, while knowing nothing about big wild surfing, in fact wondering why I was listening,  a description of holding one’s breath going down, down, down, as deep as possible  so  far and for so long,it hurt the head, swam stars appeared, gasping for air,flaked out on surfacing , there was something familiar here.

 High altitude,  the cold so cold, the wind and snow so fierce that to get breathable air, I had to hold a cupped hand  over the mouth and nose,  the entire body bent low and crouched, leaning backwards into the wind for stability, not able to walk forwards, trying to hold the position.  Head spinning and aching,   warm in thermals, all the gear, but struggling to breath in the cold,  a blizzard of white out proportions.  The trek leader saying, ‘keep stamping your feet.’ Having to move on the spot as we could not move forward or back – no visibility at all.     Numb fear, I am in another realm just to survive. Each second of the utmost value but without the usual attached meanings.

This lead me to heat and the difficulty breathing when the air is so hot it is burning the hairs on your arm.  Again covering my face to try and get the air breathed out which is cooler than the air breathed in.  Twenty six years ago and more vividly ’97 .  This is actually too hard to write about now,as it is so close to Black Saturday,where there was no cooler air or smoke less zone for many.


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