I've taken up running. Anyone who knows me will understand how insane that is. I was a competitive swimmer growing up, and, like many swimmers, I was, and am, completely awkward on land. Anytime I tried to run I ended up with shin splints and stress fractures. I haven't run for any reason other than to catch a bus in twenty years. Since Balthazar died, though, I've been running. I'm still in the "walk three minutes, run two minutes" phase of my training, but I'm doing it. I'm putting the left foot down and lifting the right. I'm dragging the right foot forward and setting it down. Over and over. I was hoping to do something dramatic in the face of grief, like opening a girls' school in Botswana or a tiger sanctuary in Srinagar. But so far all I'm doing is running.
On Friday afternoon I ran up to Mt. Tabor just as a thunderstorm was passing through Portland. I grew up in Kentucky and I know about thunderstorms. I know you don't run in a thunderstorm. You don't run up the side of a volcano under a canopy of gigantic, two hundred year-old fir and hemlock trees as lightning strikes nearby and thunder echoes all around you. You especially don't risk it without your cell phone. But I did. I watched all of the prudent people driving away in their Subaru wagons, and I went on. I couldn't decide if it was because the worst has already happened, and I now consider myself invulnerable, or if it's because I just don't care what happens next. I mean, being actually struck by lightning would be a joke even Fate wouldn't be sick enough to play, right? Is it possible to vigorously want to live and vigorously wish to die at the same time?
My husband would say this is my koan for the day.