Between the Beats

My feet swiftly glide over the rough rubber surface in the fading light. The training instilled in me many years ago forces them forward with each stride, insisting a continual pace and speed, despite the searing gasping burn of my lungs. The line at the end of the straightaway- that is my goal. Form. Form. Work on maintaining form. I dash across the line with my fingers on the stop watch. Not bad for not having done it in a while.
As I suck air into my lungs and realize I need more than just three breaths before I turn right back around and do another 300, it starts. Or rather, it flickers.
I smile, because what else can I do? Standing there, letting my body recover from the sprint with the cold wind blowing across the empty field into my face, my first though- fitting if they found me here. And then I considered the standard question- is it worth it?
Normally the answer is no, a resounding uppercase NO. Tonight, on the track, feeling my pulse skip beat after beat, the thought slips through my mind- at least I am doing what I love- running.
Like the cold wind whipping my hair out of my face, the reality of the skipping beats brings a heightened sense of clarity. Hemmingway referred to the clarity at the mountains. In the distance, I can see them, the sun’s fading light cutting through their canyons, bouncing off the clouds, but the clarity of what is worth stressing out over is before me once again.
As my breath steadies and my pulse returns to normal, Ben’s face, Doug’s face, is before me in my mind. Nothing is worth it compared to getting to spend more time with them. Doug knows I am at the track down the street- I always tell him, in case he needs to know where to start looking for me, though he would find me too late. It is a reality we have learned to adjust to, over the past many years, a reality we have even learned to laugh it. What else do we do?
There are so many things that I have learned to let slide rather than let them linger and stress me out. The stress, the fatigue, the anxiety, the lack of sleep- those things seem to make it worse. So I let it go, sometimes I have to force it, but it is getting easier with practice. Ben, Doug- those are my reasons. My love for them, my life with them, getting to spend another day with them, THAT is worth it. 
Worrying about who is or isn’t talking to me and why, who is mad at me, the long list of projects both big and small, the stupid drivers on the road, a rude person at the store- these are the things, the petty things that, were they to be the last beat of my heart, would be an utterly and completely useless waste of time. NOT worth it.
So I steady my breath and set my feet to the line and finger on the watch. Again? My heart has returned to normal. I consider the value of another dash. We have decided things like this, things like hiking alone or with just Ben, as a risk worth taking, worth living for. Just be careful, Doug says. Safe is staying home. Careful is monitoring and making adjustments. So, I dash off down the inner lane, starting the watch once again, whispering a silent prayer.
Ever since this began, since this new reality broke through the muddled haze, I have been much happier, much more in the moment. I try each time, each day, to be more so. I celebrate getting to spend time with Ben and Doug- their laughter, their smiles, their gorgeous blue eyes- I center my thoughts on those things. I try to put my time, my beats, into what is worth it, and spend time with those who understand that. I would rather the things that make me smile be the last beats.
After all, I think as I try to focus on form, Steve Erwin was a lucky bastard- died doing what he loved. I would rather go like that.