Monday, September 15, 2014

HEAVEN AND CAUTION CAN WAIT

The first ripple of autumn shivered across the Ozarks last week. No big blast — just a small cold slap to the ass, hard enough to turn on furnaces, flirty enough to make people like it. We are long past sick of summer's swelter and infatuated with pumpkin spice and Halloween and bright blazes of autumn color from turning leaves.

But too soon, fallen leaves will lead to frozen trees and another year will be gone. At least it's an even one. In my life those have always been the quiet counterparts to the loud, odd years, and 2014 has not been an outlier. "Calming" would be a stretch, certainly — this era of life contains enough intrigues to keep me at fighting weight — but I'm still finding some zen as I contemplate the coming of the odd.

I realize it doesn't have to be bad or brutal. I've made note of it before: the unforgettable moments of my life have come in odd years — my first job in this profession, my first national journalism award, the opportunity to launch a magazine, the senior producer's gig at a television station. I also met my great love in an odd year, proof that unforgettable isn't always such a hot thing.

2015: the mercenary in me is selfish and wants I-Me-My things, and I'll get them if I make my nimble way through the heat and the blisters. That means treating the coming year as a sprint, one long all-get-out gallop and screw the toll, now watch this boy's heels. Unhealthy in the long run, sure, but it's always exhilarating when my heart pounds and the air burns inside my lungs.

2015: the cautionary in me murmurs, "Just say whoa." Enough with the fast badassery; I'm 15 miles in, and that means 11 miles and some change before I'm finished with this race. Sprinting now might use me up, just when I need the energy.

But that viewpoint is unhealthy, too. It assumes the rest of the race will be worth running, and wouldn't it be a tragedy if I plod to Mile 24 and don't find it worth the time or effort? All the distance between here and there will have been a waste of earth.

There is no space or time to waste. Caution can wait. I did not make it this far by being timid.

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