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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


escape route

Went out and tempted fate. Took a chance on a heart attack. There is something about snow shoveling that gets one in a hurry about the time you start seeing how many scoops of the shovel it will take to get it all. That's when one starts piling the scoop up higher and higher, making a great deal of strain. Anyway, that was the hypothesis I went by. I never put a heavy load on the shovel. About half a shovel at a time. Or rather, half of what I'd have done 10 years ago. It was a little frustrating, but at the same time I hadn't oughta been doing this anyway. I went after it in a relaxed way, making the least effort. Shoveled snow until I gave out. Then I stopped. The whole clearing job took 3 goes at it. I was about to leave the shoveling to the next day before I went out the door for the 3rd attempt.

It was easy. I carried little weight per shovel full and stopped to rest when I found myself starting to huff and puff. I believed I'd get through it, but took it easy to minimize risk. I was looking at it as exercise. A senior exercise, where you don't expend a lot of effort. It's more about leisurely exercise to keep joints flexible. It felt a bit strange out there shoveling reminding myself I'm tempting fate. I knew that the whole time. I didn't believe there'd be a problem if I rested as I needed rest without overdoing in between. You might say I more or less did it consciously, aware of the consequences, but believing I knew how to do it. That last part, believing I knew how, is the punchline. Of course, I didn't have any idea if my hunch had any validity. Probably, I'm just lucky, or unlucky, however I look at it. I trusted the hunch enough to test it. It could have turned out like the footstep that didn't hold.

I caught myself a few times attempting to hurry things up, there was a lot of snow to shovel. That was automatic behavior. I countered that with indifference to how many days it took. Sun was out today, temp up to 40, some snow melting, I thought I'd better get the snow the DOT truck threw up in front of the car, more than doubling the depth of the snow, before it froze in the night again and became chunks of ice. I went after the surface layer first. The layer under that was soft, easy snow to shovel. The surface broke up into smaller chunks for the shovel.

I went out 3 times today, worked a short time with minimum effort each time. Hoping tomorrow's sun, forecast just like today, will melt what I've left in the tracks for the tires to come out of it's snow cave on. I wanted to get the windshield cleared today, anticipating the part against the glass will melt slightly when the sun raised the temperature inside the car above freezing. Then it would freeze in the night. If I have to go somewhere tomorrow, the glass won't have ice to scrape. I can get in and drive away. Even dug out a place so the door can open. That will be my parking lot until all is melted.

The foot of snow on the roof will blow off first time I drive. If it's not gone by the time I reach Thompson Flat, it will fly off there in hundreds of small chunks and a big spray of crystalline snow such that if anyone is behind me when it happens, they might have to turn on the wipers. It would be the same as driving through a small cloud of flying snow. I feel good about getting that snow shoveled. I didn't wear myself out, got a little exercise, never exhausted or close to it.

I still laugh at myself for such foolhardy behavior. Ronald Davis drove up and stopped as I tossed the last shovel of snow. He asked what I was doing. I said I was tempting a heart attack. It was really foolish of me to do such a thing, but I can't say I didn't know what I was doing. Every swipe of the shovel I reminded myself this is ignorant behavior. Like it's not going to happen to me. Like my truck burning up wasn't going to happen. I was remembering Jean's outrage when she learned she had irreversible cancer. She'd finally come into who she was, and looked forward to some years of living her own life as herself. It wasn't fear of death in her. She felt it wasn't right to be taken away before she had a chance to live what she'd learned. She made peace with everybody in her life and went out radiant.

I have never thought of Jean as dead, even though I saw her in the coffin. When I think of her, I see radiant light. I also feel like she's always nearby. When I think of Jr, I still don't see him dead. It's like he's at home at his place and I'm at home in mine. I can't drive down there to see him, like I have friends who live so far away I can't see them for years, but I still know they're where they are. I didn't feel a finality when Jr's soul left the body. He's where he is, out of sight of where I am, but it's no different from that. He continues to live, but not in that old skin-draped skeleton. It's like he moved to Maryland. Out there shoveling, I was questioning if I might be wanting to go Over Yonder to be with Jean and Jr.

I thought that's not such a bad idea. It's a win-win situation. I like it here well enough that I take several pills a day to keep the heart pumping and have a device inserted to keep it in rhythm. Though tempting death is kind of dramatic, what I was really tempting, I thought, was an electric shock to put me on my ass. That didn't happen either. I went into it with confidence I could shovel snow in a relaxed way and rest every time I felt like it for as long as I wanted, and not get in a hurry. I was going to say it taught me I'm not as fragile as I've come to believe. But, the only thing it taught me was today is not my time to go.

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