I had one of the most amazing runs of my life this morning. It started out normally but unfolded like a flower into an a event so breathtaking that I am almost without words to properly describe it.
Rainy season began in earnest while I was away in Oregon these past two weeks and there has been so much residual rain and water that I’ve had to alter my route. The first/last two – three kilometers is the same but this morning I altered my course to include a long piece of dirt road that I haven’t run in two or three years.
To reach this road you have to cross the highway. No big deal. The problem with this road lies a couple of kilometers further on where there are pastured animals that are predictably guarded and managed by dogs. In the past that was always my turn around point. I hate encounter with dogs who know their job, who don’t know me, and then quickly assess I am an intruder.
If you are unfortunate enough to get bit by a dog in Mexico – let alone savaged by one or more – the fault lies entirely with you. If you even managed to get the case before a judge – which would be highly unlikely – the ruling would undoubtedly be that you were in a place you shouldn’t have been.
So this morning I was a kilometer or so up this piece of road, enjoying the run because the road was soft and dry, and a yellow pickup truck pulled up beside me and stopped.
I stopped, introductions were made, and I inquired about the dog situation further up the road. The guy said there was nothing to worry about but then told me to jump in and we proceeded up the road where we stopped at each animal enclave so he could introduce me to every animal owner and all of their dogs.
Imagine that. We stopped four times, got out of his pickup and I shook hands with the ranchers and let their dogs sniff my hand.
How is that for hospitality? This man took a half-hour out of his day to drive me most of the way to the southeast edge of Lake Chapala to do nothing more than to ease my mind.
I was stunned. I was almost in tears as I finished up my run reflecting on yet another example of the gracious hospitality of the people who live in this absolutely unforgiving environment.
That’s the preamble – here’s the rest of the story.
I think about my death three times a day. First, when I wake up in the morning and gratefully realize that I am not just miraculously alive to see another day but that I am also fit enough to still run. Second, every morning I read the obits online over coffee from my hometown newspaper to see who if any of my childhood friends have passed. (*I’ll have more to say about this at the end).
Last, I think about my death every morning I take a run, wondering if this is going to be the day some teenage narco-assassin does a drive-by and shoots me into the canal. If I were going to kill me, the backroads, on the canal would be the perfect place to do it.
This is Michoacán and I believe with all the murders and resultant tragedies that the subject of death is on everyone’s mind. This maybe explains in part why there is such a narrow line that exists between good and evil. Why the good people are so good and why evil is so shunned.
I personally don’t obsess over death. Okay, so maybe I think about it three times a day but I consider that to be more a reflection of my age and situation than I do anything else. If you want to consider me obsessed about anything at all then please do so in the context of my philosophical bent on trying to make sense of the nature of life. Or more selfishly said, the nature of my own life.
I don’t live in fear of death. If I did I most certainly wouldn’t be here. If anything death has come resemble a yardstick by which we can measure our lives.
I had an all too brief conversation with my 65 year old ex-sister-in-law back in Oregon a week or so ago and I asked her if she had yet acquired the habit of reading the obits. She quickly replied, ‘No’, and that was the end of that.
Amazing. It was almost like denying death was somehow preventative.
I for one am grateful to be in a less hygienic place where the recognition, death is all around, makes those of us still here, alive to be profoundly humble and grateful.
* John Smith, 61, of Charlevoix passed away July 10th. John was born August 25, 1955 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of William and Alice Smith.