Mortality, Flirting, and Garth’s Dance

I went to a friend’s birthday party tonight at a country music bar. I’ve never been a fan of country music. It was my first time in a few weeks to go out socially since I was in the hospital and diagnosed with blood clots in my legs and lungs. Admittedly, I’ve been a little scared to live my life, so I’ve been staying home. I haven’t run in three and a half weeks.

As I’ve been writing my next book, The Inner Runner, I have a friend who has been urging me to dig deeper, to talk about my feelings since the book is all about how and why running makes me and other runners feel the way we do. I’ve never really been one to talk about my feelings, at least not publicly, because I’ve always been a private guy. It took a lot of thought before deciding to share my story about my recent health issue in my last blog. But there is something to be learned when one digs deep; we learn some truths about ourselves.

As I stood in the bar tonight, watching people two-step on the dance floor, men flirting with women at the bar, people mingling and laughing, I couldn’t help but feel lucky to be alive and that I’ve dodged a bullet. Life was happening right there in front of me tonight, and I couldn’t help but get emotional about it. But now I know there are bullets to dodge. Three and a half weeks ago, when the doctor came in my room after I had a CT angiogram and told me I had three pulmonary emboli, the very first thing I felt was fear that I was going to die. It struck me like lightening. It was visceral.

I don’t know about you, but I go through life having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I’m going to die. It just doesn’t seem possible that whatever it is inside of me that creates an earthly life could be gone. It’s hard to fathom that my breath, my heart, my brain could all stop. Even as I type this, I can’t imagine not being here to type another blog. Which sentence will be my last? I thought the same thing about my mother, who had a personality so strong you would think a personality like that could never die. But it did, and someday mine will too. And that scares me.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever like country music, except perhaps for Garth Brooks’ latest song, The Dance, but I left that country music bar tonight as that song played, feeling very happy that I haven’t missed the dance. I hope I get to live for another 40 or 50 years, to flirt with women in bars, to try moves on the dance floor, to laugh and mingle, and to feel like I have lived.

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