old-runner-2A sinus rhythm is defined one way as the normal regular rhythm of the heart as generated by the sinus node. This is what you want to see in a patient when an EKG is performed- five healthy waves in a single heartbeat. But like each beat of the heart, life happens in these up and down waves that define our interactions with others.

I thought about this while I was enduring the cardiac event known as “training run” today. Currently at the end of week three in a twelve week cycle of sado-masochism, I’m attempting my first half marathon in December. Back story -the event is for St. Jude’s Childrens Research Hospital in Memphis, and I committed to it for a couple of reasons; on October 18 of 2007, the beautiful daughter of a coworker of mine passed away at three years old, the victim of a brain tumor. St. Jude’s was instrumental in helping the family, and I’ve been impressed with this organization since I first learned of it. Secondly, if I am gonna do more than just TALK about being in better heart health, there’s nothing like setting a seemingly impossible goal to guilt me into running.

While experiencing undoubtedly abnormal rhythms, my mind was wandering all over the place, focusing on the peaks and valleys that happen to us at this age. The craziness knows no limits: one classmate of mine is in jail for allegedly murdering his wife in the heat of a bitter custody battle, we have folks with marriages on the rocks or ending, The Lyin’ Dutchman has ostracized each and every member of his family (except Bones), The Wife broke one ankle and sprained the other two days ago just walking down our driveway; hell, I even went nuts to a minor degree this past spring, sold off the excavating business, lost my mind and took up yoga. On the plus side, Heathen #1 is rocking kindergarten, this site has been a fulfilling outlet for my creative impulses, RoJo welcomed a baby boy into this world, Lyrical Jackass is back with an old crazy flame, Dirtbag is busy building out in the northwest, JoBoo just got him a new Harley and my first tattoo is on the horizon.

And so it goes. These various waves in our lives give it spice, meaning, passion and heartbreak. When compared to asystole (also known as “flatline”), sinus rhythm is not such a bad option, even with all the valleys. Living a flat line life would be boring, repetitive, secure to the point of mad doldrums. I’m not advocating abandoning family nor commitments, but rather, learning to accept the valleys as just another point in my life’s rhythm. Caring for a temporarily crippled wife? That’s not too bad, especially when taken in the context of having a person in my life who is willing to even be seen with me. Mile 5 of the training run today? Well, there was nothing good to say about that one, save for that it’s about 4.75 miles further than I’ve run in nearly a decade.  As the knees were snapping, the sweat pouring down like a monsoon, and the feet protesting with each stumbled step, it actually brought a smile to my face. My shuffle might embarrass the hell out of me if I ever were to witness it, but least I’m out there, and not flat-lining here on the couch. I’ll never be a runner’s runner – I know this. To survive this thirteen mile race without congestive heart failure will be nothing short of a medical miracle. But I’ll take the unknown inconsistencies of this run, this life, over the alternatives any day.