But Julie's body was an instrument, even now, with her fingers folded together and the scar across the cheek showing much more strongly in death than in life; even now Julie's body was an instrument; not a prison that remains the same even when the prisoner is gone, but an instrument, a piano with the sounding board broken and the strings all snapped; nothing, when its music is taken away. Katherine rubbed her fingers against the heavy gold locket, turned away from her mother, and went out to Manya and Tom.
--The Small Rain, Madeleine L'Engle, Chapter 4
There's something about death that is strange and magnificent all at once.
Earlier this week, I was on a run, and, all of a sudden, my ankle rolled underneath me. I gasped, but righted myself and kept running (maybe I should have slowed down to a walk. But I kept running).
And I started crying. Not because it hurt. It didn't, past the sudden shock and spray of nerves on fire that comes from rolling your ankle. But because it hit me in that moment how utterly impossible it is to be safe, and how completely dangerous a thing it is to be alive. How is it that, in one moment ,you could be running down the road, and, in the next, your ankle could snap underneath you. It is not natural to think too much about the precarious dance that living is. If you thought too much about it, your breath would catch on the thick lump of fear in your throat.
So, we don't. But, sometimes, in a moment of pain or lucidity, the peril of living comes into focus, and it makes you just want to stay rolled up in your mother's lap for the rest of eternity.
It seems impossible that we can stay alive, as there are so many bones that could break, organs that could fail, buildings that could fall on us, cars that could crash into us, and planes that could fall out of the sky.
And yet here we are.
Still cheating death, still running, even though our ankles roll.