Every day that I go for a run, I pass a funeral home.*
Now, I didn’t try it at first. I usually follow the path of least resistance when I run, also known as “the path that will not make me run into oncoming traffic or up any really really big hills”. But once I realized what it was, I started altering my route to take me past there.
It’s a pretty busy place. Depending on the time of day, there’s almost always a wake going on there. Lots of people hanging around outside, talking or having a smoke.** Sometimes they wave at me when I go by, because apparently seeing a pink-haired woman with big boobs running makes a lot of people smile. Sometimes they don’t notice me at all.
And every time I go past, rounding the corner that will take me to the park, I think, tick tock.
Cliche? Yeah, maybe. But it’s a cliche for a reason, and that is because cliches are a kind of shorthand for the mind. And that funeral home is my personal geographic shorthand for This will not last.
And that’s not a depressing thought. It’s a motivating one. If you have infinite time, there’s always time to do the stuff you really want to later, right? You can finish that book, ask out that guy, paint a portrait, stay up late having sex and eating leftover Halloween candy…tomorrow. Today, there’s bills, and laundry, and the lawn to mow. But maybe tomorrow. Or the day after. Next month, for sure.
And the next thing you know, it’s you at that funeral home.
So, fuck it. Every time I feel like quitting on a novel or on a sport or on anything, any time I just can’t get up the motivation to get it done, I lace up my sneakers and head out for that run. And I pass that blue building with all the cars and the people in their suits and dark dresses and not-enough-sleep faces. And sometimes I see the coffin as it comes out, headed for the chapel across the street, and think, did they do it? Did they get what they loved done in time?
And then I start to run faster. When I get back, I go at my work with renewed enthusiasm. A lot of the time, those end up being my best days.
Because when the whistle goes and play is finally called, you don’t want to be walking off the field with any regrets.
*Today I also passed a dog up a tree. Not a joke or a euphemism for something. A dog. That had climbed a tree. He was twelve or fifteen feet off the ground, looking at birds. His owner told me he often does this.
**At my funeral, if someone doesn’t tap a keg in the parking lot, I will be deeply disappointed in all of you.