I went out shopping early this morning. My local supermarket has the 6am-7am time slot reserved for seniors. I am a senior. It's one of the few advantages about growing old. I would, however, trade that advantage in a second for a few years scratched off my tally and happily shop at noon.
When I walked to my car earlier, about 6am, dawn was at term. Birth was imminent. The morning was rife with the anticipation of the sun's arrival. But it was still below the horizon. I breathed in the air. It was as fresh as can be, newly minted, glorious, and it tasted delicious. This early morning air, uncorrupted by anything—cars, trucks, dogs, people—is pure. It's heady, and when I took great whiffs into my lungs, it was as if I were drinking from the fountain of youth. Three of four deep lungfuls, and I was younger, stronger, healthier. It wasn't going to last long, this 100% purity, this essence of new—cool, sweet and invigorating. Soon the sun would rise and slowly warm the air, relieving it of its coolness. Soon cars would pass by, corrupting it with noise and odors.
Not yet. For a half-hour or so I could breathe in pure optimism, hope, youth. Better than the rarest wine, a gift to my lungs.
A breath of fresh air.
Somewhere in Walden, Thoreau declares that he never smoked tobacco or, for that matter, had any kind of artificial stimulus.
What, he asked himself—and us—got him going?
Thoreau, you, me, everybody.