Plum-Pit Chi

I was told I have Plum-pit Chi.  It’s in my throat, as though I’ve swallowed a pit and it’s lodged there.  I can breathe around it, but it gurgles and strangles my voice.  It is grief.  It is too much of this and not enough of that.  It is my head and my heart trying to meet in the middle somewhere and becoming caught at the back of my throat; so that my intellect and my emotions simmer and churn and ache for release in the form of anxiety. 

I once choked on a chocolate croissant.  Sitting across the table from my two year old, I took a flaky bite and then took a breath to say something to him.  Instant panic: no air in or out.  No sound.  No control.  I’m going to die at my favorite bakery right in front of my toddler, I thought.  He didn’t notice.  I stood up and walked to where the bakery owner was stocking the beverage cooler.  Squatting there, she was  looking up with a smile as if she was about to speak, until she saw that I was holding my throat-that “international sign for choking” and I’m not kidding because I’m scared to death and it’s palpable.  Immediately, she came behind me, wrapped her arms around my ribs and heaved as hard as she could.  I shook my head “no”.  She heaved again, lifting me off the ground, which is saying something considering I am easily four or five  inches taller than she is.  I shook my head, “no”.  Heave and pause and I waved my hand because something shifted and I felt I might be able to cough.  Yes.  I coughed and it shifted a little more so I tried to take a breath.  She still had her arms around me, ready to heave again.  I was silently crying and praying and yes, breathing.  I nodded my head yes and she released me.  I still could not speak around the chunk of pastry in my throat.  A small breath and I coughed so hard I thought I might vomit.  It was involuntary and just as scary as no air at all was.  It finally subsided and I spoke.  My voice was unrecognizable: raspy, raw, weak.  Thank you, I whispered to her. Gratitude. I took a few more tentative breaths.  She hugged me hard and we both cried, which finally completely dislodged the damned buttery flake of death.  All of this transpired in the time it took for my mother to put cream and sugar in her coffee and walk ten feet to the dining room. She came in, saw me holding onto the baker, saw us crying.  “What’d I miss”?, she asked in her beautiful nonchalant way. 

My Chi, caught in my throat, reminds me not to take my breath for granted. It reminds me to breathe with intention.  I imagine breathing in calm, strength, light.  I imagine it filling my entire body; absorbing the things within me which do not serve me and then releasing those effects to the universe as I breathe out.  It helps.  It offers momentary respite from fear and grief and questions.  It is a spiritual Heimlich of sorts and it saves me over and over again.  Those tentative breaths, that unrecognizeable voice:  they are mine, telling my story and always, always, saying Thank You.

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6 Comments on “Plum-Pit Chi”

  1. Lesley Cruz Says:

    I could certainly use a “spiritual Heimlich”; perfectly worded. Love it. Beautifully written as always, Susan!

  2. misa Says:

    I hadn’t heard of plum pit qi before but it makes total sense. Your account of your chocking was very gripping.

  3. Dani Says:

    Oh Susan, that is such a beautiful piece of writing. You once again brought tears to my eyes. You’re very good… and I’m one critical mofo, so that comment means a lot. Keep it up. I think you’ve a got a book in the making.

  4. Sandy Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this especially because I did the exact same thing… choked on something because I was trying to talk to Ivan, who was demanding a piece of my sandwich. So I inhaled it, and luckily Gus is pretty good at the Heimlich, and was so excited to be able to perform it.
    And now I am wondering who told you that you had plum -pit chi?

  5. Sam Goodall Says:

    love it, Susie. Very pertinent for me at this point too, as I try to renew, and bring to some sort of fruition, my earnest wish for balanced and flowing qi in my own body. Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

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