…my second language.
I’ve been catching myself sighing a lot lately. What has surprised me is not that I sigh, but:
(1) how frequently I do,
(2) how many different things I sigh about, and
(3) how semantically different my sighs can be.
I’ve been wondering if I sigh to communicate what I’m feeling (the sighing-as-language option) or if sighing is somehow inherently therapeutic (this, of course, from the woman who insists that “depression is therapeutic”). Perhaps sighing is one of my body’s way of dealing with stress–reminding me to take a deep breath, to reoxygenate, to slow down my breathing even though life is rough.
I sigh in reaction to sadness, anger (sighing while biting my lip and counting to ten), uncertainty (to buy me an extra second to think about it), contentment (ahhh, yes, that is so nice) and, as the above photo suggests, overall tiredness. General weariness, I would say, is what prompts my most common sigh.
I do feel better for having sighed. Sometimes it really is an easier way to communicate than trying to find words. And the moment it gives me to regroup and collect myself, plus the little oxygen rush from a nice deep breath, are all good things.
The poem is written by Langston Hughes and is definitely taken out of context (one thing that I like about his poetry is that even if the story he is telling is different from my own, the feelings are oh so familiar. So when I admit to taking this part out of context, I don’t feel too guilty, since I don’t think the feeling is actually distorted by applying it to myself. The poem is called “Graduation” and is taken from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, p. 315).
The photograph (you should have seen me trying to do a Google Image search for various terms related to “sighing” 🙂 ), is of a migrant worker mother and her baby, in Arizona in 1940.
When I look at the photo and the poem together, I sigh a peaceful sigh because of how great it is to find and bring together such accurate expressions for things I feel deeply, but do not find it easy to put into words.