A mix of roads and trails at an easy pace brought constant reminders of our massive tangle of being. Starting out in the trails across from home I sped around a corner and up a short hill. Gazing off into the trees ahead and above I saw a splash of red so bright its presence seemed to be for contrast and to get my attention. The scarlet tanager perched comfortably amidst the budding green leaves looked down on the slow, funny biped without concern. I stopped and watched for a few moments and then ran off again, winding around the path beside the creek as a belted kingfisher darted away. Another thirty seconds of running and I’d be near the kingfisher again, it’s call letting me know its proximity, but then it’d take off and follow the creek’s serpentine route until out of sight. Out of sight, not out of mind as its song echoed exuberantly— hidden momentarily, but refusing to be silenced.

Leaving the trails I cruised comfortably along the sandy dirt farmer’s road. Fresh smells of manure reminded me of waste and decay. A comforting wind cooled the sweat that came with my effort and the day’s intense sun. A mile and a half later I was on pavement again. Cars zipped by with their drivers shielded from the elements, alone in their cocoons of steel and plastic on the way to another place, away from here.

On that same road a little farther along, I came to a female raccoon, bloated and tits up. Within another quarter of a mile I found a young buck in the ditch beside bits of a car’s shattered signal light. The deer’s neck so twisted the body position defied any lasting peace from death. Fortunately a crosswind carried the stench of death away.

Heading for home and passing another farmer’s field I saw several calves grazing beside their mothers in the warm sun. Across the road a boy ran and played while his father mowed the yard. In the space of eight and a half miles and in a little over an hour I moved through so very much!

On this run I burned with all the living around and within me, spurred on by spring in all its grandeur. At the same time death gave me a nudge, not letting me overlook the fragility of our existence. Fullness of life wound round and braided tightly with death’s stark reality. Whatever daydreaming I may have considered letting myself slip into during this run was driven away with every sight and sound. With such clarity and resonance I heard and keep hearing: WAKE UP, WAKE UP, LIVE YOUR LIFE! DON’T WASTE A BREATH!