J. Robert King


Expiration Dates

I’m reading a letter from the Atlantic that says my expiration date is coming. This is news to me.

I feel fine.

Ham expires. Bread. Magazines. Do I have an expiration date?

Reading along, I understand that “my expiration date” means when I’ll stop getting the Atlantic.

That was close. There’s a huge difference between my expiration date and not getting the Atlantic. I mean, funeral costs are like ten to twenty thousand, but not getting the Atlantic is free.

Actually, getting the Atlantic was also free. I didn’t have enough frequent flier miles to actually fly anywhere, but I had enough to get the Atlantic.

But, of course, what we’re dancing around here is life and death. When I expire, I breathe out for the last time. I also cease to read the Atlantic, but the breathing part is more important.

To expire is to breathe out. To inspire is to breathe in.

Which means, as I have been writing this blog entry, I have expired perhaps a hundred times, but I have inspired just as much (let’s hope.)

So, what’s so bad about expiring? We all do it every day. We all draw in the air that will give us life, and then we all force the air out again, carrying some of the trace poisons that, if allowed to build up minute by minute, would kill us.

Inspiration . . . expiration. . . .

Think of the first time you breathed. Think of being a creature who is used to drawing in placental fluid and then suddenly, for the first time, breathes air! What a wonder! What a horror!

I remember when my first son was born, after 18 hours of labor and an emergency C-section at 3:00 a.m., He was born purple, with lots of hair pasted in curls to his head.

But then he took a breath. One breath, and the purple was gone. He cried a moment later, letting out that first life-saving breath, and then brought in another, and suddenly he was pink.

That’s the magic of inspiration. We breathe in, and we are transformed. We are alive. We breathe out, and we die a little, but then we breathe in again.

We don’t have to worry about how much we expire. Our expiration date is every day. We have to worry about how much we inspire.

Make a promise right now. Every time you breathe out, breathe in again.You’ll live forever.

And that’s how lives are made, one moment at a time. My wife, a nursing-home social worker for 15 years, saw how a person could decide to keep breathing in until his daughter came, until her son was there. Then, that same person could decide to breathe out one last time and not breathe in again.

Life and death. Feel it as you inspire and expire. Choose it, moment by moment.

August 7th, 2009
Topic: Uncategorized Tags: None

One Response to “Expiration Dates”

  1. Expiration Dates | time saving in business Says:

    […] original post here: Expiration Dates Tags: archives, atlantic, author-signing, children, expiration, expiration-dates, […]

≡ Leave a Reply