John Roedel reads The Anatomy of Peace

Shout-out today (and apologies for the two-week absence…just been busy with other things and kept losing the thread) to poet John Roedel, who feels like something of a muse for these times. This beautiful poem, The Anatomy of Peace, speaks to a theme dear to my heart; one that has frequently been a topic on this blog: embodiment and breath. John beautifully captures the challenge of our warring hearts and heads, who butt up against one another continually, pushing and pulling towards the past and the future, and refusing to remain grounded in the present moment. He artfully expresses the feelings in each of the body parts that house our various “brains”, travelling down through the body to the ribs, then the gut and ultimately, towards the deepest breath. In these uncertain and challenging times we have been going through, sometimes together and often apart, this poem really spoke to me, as I hope it will to you.

I am reminded continually, as I navigate new waters in both my personal and professional lives, that the present moment is all we have. The breath keeps us alive in every way–both literally and figuratively. It’s so easy to get ahead of ourselves, or to obsess about things left undone, or done wrong. The breath observed takes us back to the simplicity of this exact moment in time, and our awareness of it helps ease the anxiety and pain we all suffer at some point during our days.

I’ve been called upon to centre myself in this on many occasions over the last days and weeks, as we prepare to go back to some kind of version of music education in person, and the first live concerts (last night! Kitchener Market outdoors!) allow us to share in music-making in real time (thanks, too, to my Laurier Music colleagues, who made music with me together for the first time in preparation for our Music at Noon series this week) after such a long hiatus. “Be present! Be awake!” my breath and body call to me in such moments. I am grateful to all the artists in my life, even those who I know only from a distance (thanks, John!). They reach out through their creativity to remind me of my own artist self, and give me reason for being, for singing, for living. Just breathe, everyone. It’s the essence of peace.