Air is Deceptive

Updated: Jun 27

By Thea Iberall


Air is deceptive stuff. People used to believe there was nothing around us because air is not visible. And now that we know air is all around us, we still think of it as weightless. But it isn't. I just learned, from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, that sitting on the planet is 5200 trillion tons of air, or about one ton directly on top of each one of us. With a rising barometer, we can wake up with an extra 1000 pounds of air sitting on us. The amazing thing is that we don't feel crushed. That is because we are made of incompressible fluids which push back against the air pressing on us. So, no, we don't feel air. That is, until the air moves. Bryson said differences in air pressure are caused by the sun's heat being unevenly distributed across the Earth. If you think about it, wind is air's way to keep things in balance. The greater the discrepancy in pressure, the faster the wind. And when millions of tons of air are moving, it no longer is unfelt. At 75 mph or more, air becomes a deadly force, able to rip buildings apart and make semi-trucks fly. I've never thought of wind like this before. I’ve never thought of why the air is on the move. It’s something I watch as it blows through the trees. It just happens. But I'm realizing that what seems like my reality really isn't. We need air to breathe but we don't see it. It’s crushingly heavy on us but we don't feel it. We live in a world where there are so many things we only infer or intellectually know. We take much for granted as we interact with what we think we know about the world. And for other things, we are unsure whether they are there or not. Our senses can detect only a very small portion of the energy spectrum. Between the ranges of our senses is a whole other world. It's like a metaphor for living. The unseen weights of my life can weigh me down with worry if I let them. Climate change, asteroids, volcanoes, fires, illnesses, earthquakes, financial ruin, political corruption, inequality, family problems. My mind can crush me with fear as I dwell on these and more. But is it real fear and real worry? And if it’s real, do I have to feel the weight of it or can the fears and worry be like air? I can choose to balance the fear and worry by becoming the incompressible force that I already am. I can accept those burdens like the burden of millions of tons of air. I can believe in my ability to balance them.


We all have problem solving skills. I think of how I use mine. I look back at what I’ve overcome. I get out of my own way and appreciate what I’ve done. I use affirmations, make gratitude lists, reprogram my brain saying 10 good things about myself whenever I say something negative about myself. I become my own cheerleader and commit to my own serenity. I am the the stuff of what makes the stars. I dig deep into my core beliefs to find what stops me from being the incompressible force I already am.


I believe this is possible. We are whole and complete and incompressible. I believe in me. I believe in you.



Participants’ Reflections:

  • That was really, really wonderful. I was thinking how much we push against our loved ones, especially during Covid. It’s been difficult rubbing shoulders and the pressure we put on each other and us as we do that. I’d like to discuss this with the person I love. It’s hard. Those are the things that get in our way. Getting out of our own way is one of the best things we can do each day.

  • Talking with a metaphor is sometimes an easier way to talk.

  • Thank you. I want to re-read the blog and I could really get into the Bryson book. Today, I opened the window in my home office, the first time in months. Yesterday, I found a stray cat. I am hoping to find the owners today or take him to a rescue place. He’s extremely thin and I hope he recovers. During the meditation, I reflected on the fact that it took a friend I haven’t met yet for me to open the window and clear the air in this room. It’s been a pretty heavy room for a while. I want to keep it light and open.

  • Thank you for that reading. It’s interesting to hear about the air. When the air gets humid, I feel worse and it’s harder to breathe.

  • Thank you for joining me today. Thank you for being here, for sharing, for being gentle with yourself. I hope you have a blessed wonderful day as you contemplate this stuff around us that we can’t feel but it’s there and we push back. I hope you all find ways to push back in your lives today to free yourself from things that are pressuring you. We are incompressible and strong. Thank you for joining me. Have a wonderful, blessed day.

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