It beats at an odd rhythm. Thump, tap tap, thump, tap tap.
It works fine when I'm resting or when I'm working out but the everyday beat is uneven. It stutters. It plays around.
I had some tests done.
The MD told me, "Well, if you do die from it it'll be fast so...there's that."
Just keep riding your bike, was his parting advice. Your heart's a champ when you're sweating.
Normal life is killing me was the message.
Trussed up like Da Vinci's akimbo man - tape and wires hanging between my chest and the machine. I was a health care marionette.
I stood , I sat , I laid down, I ran on a tread mill and then they took that thing they run across a pregnant woman's belly and filmed my heart with sound. Sonared my chest.
And there it was. The little muscle that's kept me alive for half a century. Pumping away. An oblong shape jumping at every beat. That motion when someone surprises you- that full body jerk you make when you leap back from sleep - that's what a heart does - and when it's going at 180 beats per minute the saying "Nearly lept out of my chest" no longer seems like an idiom.
Every step I've taken. The days I spent grousing in Edgewood grade school, fused to the chair in Ms Jozwiak's class, the long beautiful Ohio summers, the dark incredible years in New England, the decades sprinting between New York and LA. Each minute inside that pathetic personal immensity my heart was pumping inside me. The same song every day, every hour down to the minute.
In the sonogram what struck me most was the not the heart's wafer thin walls but its bird-like finger valves opening and closing, tapping away like feathered drumsticks, letting the blood run from chamber to chamber. It doesn't even look like a "process"- it's a dance, a stream barely regulated. I've never seen such efficiency.
Your life rushes through you and your heart keeps the time. Keeps it from overflowing. Or stopping dead. It is the time. Your time.
Your life as a single muscle. Stunning to stare at on a screen, cut in half like a house you're wondering should I build it or not, a cross section. A four room fixer upper.
I wanted to give it a name. Reach out and pet it like I would an eager dog, a happy horse who had carried me for a hours. I stared. It couldn't possibly be me but really is me more than my imagination or the bag of ideas I call my soul.
There I was. A nameless, blind blob, eager and working in the dark, bobbing away like a mad legless gerbil .....there I am. David Conrad.
Inconceivable machine. One that never rests. Amazing we live as long as we do.
Every one of us with the same inner badass.
I laughed. I wanted to hug the little guy.
I guess I kinda do, every day.
Now I lay me down to sleep...
And wake up in 2016. Another decade making the turn and heading home.