Thursday, September 20, 2012

Leave your body on the earth

Three people with dogs are ahead of me. As I pass them, one of the dogs runs to the other side, its leash stretched across the path. I trip over it and go flying across the gravel.

"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." I am laying on the dirt. I stop my watch. I close my eyes, put my forehead down on my arms, and wait.

"Let me help you up."
"No. Just leave me here. I'm fine."

It's best if, when I leave the earth, my body is on the ground. I wait.

"Are you okay?"

I open my eyes. I'm laying on the ground. The dogs -- the leash -- that's right.

"I'm fine." I get up, assess the damage to my skin, brush the dust off my clothes. We exchange a few more words, then I start my watch and start running again.

That mile is 7:55, but the next two are 9:30 because I am telling myself that I know how I will die.

Some day, as it has happened a hundred times before, something stupid will happen -- I will trip and fall, or bang my knee on a table -- and, knowing what is coming, I will lay down, put my forehead on my arms, and wait. And as it has happened a hundred times before, my breathing will slow down, and my heartbeat will slow down, and that which is me will cease to exist. For how long? I never know -- ask the people who have watched it happen.

And then someone says -- "Are you okay?" And a hundred times, I say, "I'm fine," and I get up. And what if, the hundred and first time, my breathing slows, and slows, and slows, and then ... ?

Also see: vasovagal episodes.

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