Flash Fiction: Finding Calm

Harold took a deep breath in through his nose and held it, wondering if any of this was actually worth it.

“Okay, now exhale through your mouth,” the oddly calming voice with a British accent said from his phone.

Harold did as he was commanded, feeling that all of this was stupid, but also knowing that at this point he was willing to do absolutely anything he could to deal with the stress he had been feeling for so long now.

“Inhale,” the voice said, trailing off as though it was an unfinished sentence.

It’s not like this was the first time he had ever tried meditation. In high school he had certainly taken to it, although that was mostly just closing his eyes and breathing while making a noise.


Actually, it had started as something of a joke, making fun of the goofiness he had seen on television regarding meditation. But then he found it actually managed to make him feel better. He had always assumed that when he had transitioned over to smoking as his primary stress-reliever, that it worked off of the same premise.

“Now, one more time, inhale.”

And, actually, as he thought back, it really did help. It gave him a moment to step back and reflect on the day, to not be in the midst of doing something, but to simply stop.

“And now, when you exhale this time, I want you to close your eyes and feel your weight pressing into your seat.”

Come to think of it, it was probably cell phones that ruined it for him. Back in the day, there wasn’t really another option for what to do during a smoke break. Either you sat back and had a conversation with someone else who was smoking, or you stared off into the middle-distance like you were starring in an emo music video. Now you took the time to play whatever crap game you’ve got loaded on your phone or scroll through social media.

“And as you feel your weight pressing into your chair, I want you to focus on your body.”

Not that he wanted to blame cell phones for all of his trouble. They’re great. They really are. But they also mean that he’s always on, always connected. He can’t simply have a second to himself nowadays. A second to just sit back and reflect.

“If your mind tries to wander, gently return it to the body.”

It’s like the world is simply against him trying to chill out for a second. Yeah, sure, he’s sitting here right now, but how long could this possibly last. And actually now that he’s thinking about it, he’s starting to feel a heckuva lot more agitated than when he started this whole mess. Like, is this what this is supposed to be? An echo chamber where he just has more and more time to reflect on what is bothering him and how he doesn’t have time to do the things he wants.

“And now, I want you to start at the top of the head, and slowly scan down the body, feeling for any pain or discomfort. Just getting a good judge of what your body is trying to tell you. Remember, if your mind starts to wander, don’t force it, but gently return it to the task at hand.”

This is bullshit. If I wanted to just sit back for a few minutes and remember how little time I have for sitting around and doing nothing, I can think of plenty of better ways to go around it than to sit back and listen to some British dude tell me what to do. What am I supposed to be doing anyways? Breathing? Don’t I do that all the time already? How in the world is this stuff so damned trendy if all the guy is going to tell you is to breathe?


Thank God for my phone needing me. At least now I know it’s not worth my time to waste $12.99 a month on being told to breathe.


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