I was working out this morning and the time came for the ski machine to register my heart beat. For a moment the number was "zero", not a good thing for a guy from a family with heart problems. Of course it was a glitch in the machine, I'm writing this aren't I, but it's always worth a pause.

I think about it from time to time, the idea of having a ticking machine in my chest with a propensity to one day just give up on the spot. I try to exercise, eat right, do good things, but the odds are the odds and with a brother who passed at 44 and a father who died at just barely 60 I'm aware of any bump in my chest in a way that others are not.

Now the tests show everything is okay. I've had pictures taken, wires attached, treadmills under me, and scanners over me. Every once in a while my heart throws in an extra beat or pauses between them but that's normal and so, for my age, is my heart. But its still there, the sense that time could be short, a kind of presence lurking in the background.

The interesting thing is that I'm not particularly afraid. I'm not crazy about the idea of dying mostly because I think of all the stuff I'll miss. I'm that way about sleeping, too, for the same reason. But the whole thing has been clarifying and rejuvenating for me. Knowing I might have a deadline, and not just an imaginary one but one that could be close, has made me better. I try not to idle away the time. I make sure that I give myself to good things. I plan on laughing more, sweating the small stuff less, and enjoying each day. Am I perfect about this? No, sometimes I still just flop in front of the TV and mindlessly scan the channels, but I also went outside yesterday and read excerpts from St. Basil's "On the Holy Spirit" and then just let the evening sun wash over me whenever I felt like it.

I've got as long way to go on all of this, or maybe not, but it's at least a start.

No comments: