Writing is revelation. Is the telling of the deepest honesties. Writing is the soul laid bare. In these posts, sometimes, we offer the most secret parts of ourselves. Offer it fearlessly. This is one.

I believe, sometimes, that the sound of a man breathing is the most beautiful sound in the world. The intimacy of it. The awareness of the life that the breath is connected to, and all it conveys. The traces of that breath through life: its changes, its tells. An experience as magnificent as there is.

I have come by this awareness in a number of ways. But what I share here is not the warmth of a loved one beside me, but rather a more unexpected awareness raised during the course of an innocent act: a massage by a very fine, very spiritual practitioner.

These breaths had a measured awareness in them. Like a meditation that connected me to him. An announcement of concentration; of intention. A thing more ethereal than sensuality, yet made up of the same stuff.

As writers, it is our lot—our duty—to open ourselves to the moment. This is an assignment as instinctive as it is deliberate. To feel as much as can be felt; to be as ultra-aware as the organism will allow. Sometimes, it feels like a burden. Most of the time, it feels like joy.

It is not an exaggeration to say that, in the art-mind, a grain of sand is an Alp. A fish on the tongue is all fish on all tongues. An embrace is the ultimate expression of embraces. Love felt, denied, imagined, forbidden—it is ours to hold. And a man’s breathing, collected in preparation for the stroke, the touch, the anticipation, the incomparable everything…it is life condensed into an instant.

We do. We do without. We imagine gloriousness in the absence of the experience of it. And in the random samplings that life offers us—if we are willing to go naked before them—are indescribable joys that, if we are diligent, dedicated, lucky and open to our craft, are the moments of which worlds are made.