Here I am
lost in the wind
‘Round in circles sailing
Like a ship that never comes in
Standing by myself
— the prophet randy newman
I’m running in the afternoon, because it’s just not quite warm enough in the morning here. I’m staring at my watch. I’m barely shuffling, but my heart rate is redlining. It’s insanely hot. I can feel the tattered remains of my heart pounding way too hard. I’m thinking. What if this is it?
This would be a good way to go out. I’m in lane 9 at the track. It’s a beautiful day. I’m happy. I’m listening to Fiona Apple sing Frosty the Snowman. I’ve had a good life. 62 years is 100k, a poetic place for an aging runner to bow out. Pick up the pace a bit, and I’m done. This would make a fine ending.
I saw a story about a 78-year-old man who died this month while riding his motorcycle up Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. He just slumped over the handlebars, and he was gone. Could you write a more glorious ending? It’s better to burn out than to fade away, the prophet Young wrote. But maybe even an old star can go out with a sudden burst.
I ponder it for a lap or so, and then shut down for the day. I love Mo dearly, and the cat will be annoyed if she doesn’t get her afternoon treats. Thanks a bunch for getting her hooked, geedee.
But I remember for the millionth time that we’re not going to live forever, no matter how much we pretend. It’s all nature. People die for no reason. But isn’t no reason a reason too?
Hours later, I watch the temperature go from 112 to 75 as one of our beloved monsoon storms comes roaring in. I’m standing on the porch reveling in the wall of dust envelop me when the largest branch of a nearby tree snaps and lands a few feet away. Life is so random.
We lost five trees at the track during the last storm. They’re born, they grow, they die. You don’t notice them along the course, assuming their lifesaving shade is forever. I guess life is like that. You take running for granted. You think it will never end. You assume rock and roll will never die.
I got two new pairs of Gramicci shorts in the mail today and realized, this is it. These are the Last Gramiccis I Will Ever Have To Buy. They’re going to outlive me. That’s the thing about The Third Act. You start thinking more about the final curtain.
Tomorrow, the desert will be cooler after the storm. The enchanting smell of creosote will waft in the air after the rain. I will return to the track, remember the trees that were once there, and look forward to the ones that will take their place long after I’m gone.
“He died doing what he loved” sounds good. “He lived doing what he loved” sounds better. Don’t pull the curtain yet; I have a matinee scheduled.
And some Gramiccis to wear out …