While beginning to pack for my move across town, I found and reread a greeting card that was sent from the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center that reads:
"Meditation allows our spirituality to keep growing when every other thing is falling apart."
All conditioned things have a lifecycle; there are conditions that give rise to things, conditions that maintain things, and conditions that ultimately lead to things falling apart.
This cycle is what makes conditioned things an unreliable source of lasting happiness.
For instance, if we gain something, then lose it, and can't have it back, our happiness is lost with the object. The same holds true for pain and pleasure, blame and praise, and disrepute and fame...they come and go.
The breath, while it also comes and goes, isn't accompanied by the same clinging and aversion as do other conditioned things. How often do you think "darn, I lost that breath" or "gee, I'm gonna miss that breath" or "gimmee that breath back"?
The breath is an anomaly! It goes out and comes right back in, making it a steady point upon which we can rest our mind. So long as we're alive, the breath is always there for us. The more comfortable we become with it, the more we grow our peace of mind.
While this peace of mind that we're cultivating through our meditation practice might not yet be steady, over time, through consistent practice and dedication to moral behavior, it will certainly continue to grow. A moment then will arise in which the world around is falling apart around us but we notice that our mind isn't crumbling with it. Instead, it remains untouched, clear and balanced.
This isn't to say we become numb to the world, but rather immune to the dis-ease usually brought about by the inevitable vicissitudes of life.
It's a good place to be.