Wednesday at lunch I read Runner's World Racing News, like I do most days, and learned that Sally Meyerhoff died. While many people have told me they read my blog only about 5% of you have probably head of Sally Meyerhoff. She was a 27 year old professional runner and triathlete. A mid 20s athlete trying to excel in two sports, crazy.
Her last blog post on March 6th welled up tears in my eyes. Near the end she speaks about how well life is going. Then two days later she rides her bike across an intersection and gets hit by a truck. How many thousand intersections have I run across? Probably over 20,000 or 30,000 intersections (thank you Worcester) in my over 18,000 lifetime miles. All it takes is one mistake to end your life.
I still think about Christina Castagna who died on Broad Peak a few thousand feet above me while I sat in camp three as one of the few who was not totally exhausted. She was then still better than I am now in terms of high altitude experience, yet she took one wrong step and now she is dead.
These things scare me because I realize that I could cross an intersection or trip while climbing a ridge and die. It hasn't really stopped me from doing those things, but it has helped me to be more cautious. I like the mental state that I have about risk now. I assume that in the future I will take even less risk as I have others that depend on me, yet there are things I want to do that involve risk. I am scared that I will put myself in a destructive situation, and that fear keeps me sharp and aware. If I wasn't afraid of getting hit by a car I would probably take even more risks. I do not want to take more risks. Fear is a good thing. Without the fear that I have I would not appreciate how fragile life is and I would not take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to me. If I ever seem to be impulsive or move things along rather fast it is because I am afraid that if I don't act now, I might not have the chance to do it later.
We only get one shot at life. It is your choice what you bring to the table. I know what I want from my life, and in many ways I am getting many of those things every day. I cannot slow down. I cannot turn my brain off. I cannot stop. This is my life. I am doing things. I am learning. If I die Thursday, it will be okay. That's not ideal for my family and friends as far as I can imagine. I am planning to live to be over 90 (so that I can set some age group world records) but I prefer to confront the possibility that I might not live that long. I am so thankful for all that I have both in terms of relationships and the other shallow stuff. I think that my life has already impacted some other's lives in a positive way and if this is all there is so be it. Life is fragile. Do not take your life for granted. Not everyone that was living a week ago is living today.