A mere three years into my Baker’s Dozen, my heart stumbled and nearly fell. Admittedly, I was carrying too much weight. I stepped onto this path carrying as much weight as most beginning backpackers do. Their fear of the unknown, lack of experience, and need to cling to comforts they’ve convinced themselves are vital to their happiness lead them to reach for answers to questions they’ve not yet been asked. Many of those questions will never be asked. Which means lightening my load should have been one of my primary goals. And, honestly, it was.

But it seemed like every time I managed to drop weight, even more weight was sucked from the darkening world back into the resulting vaccuum. I would let go of a childhood trauma I’d never been able to shake, and then realize our species will likely be extinct before long. I’d forgive myself for the harm I’d once done to a good person, then recognize the looming spectre of authoritarianism rising in the world. I’d focus on trying to be kind to someone I didn’t understand, then become angered by the spreading ugliness of religious ignorance and intolerance. I’d breathe deeply the fresh garden air, then run inside to avoid a viral pandemic. 

I guess my heart just got tired of it all. It began to drag its feet. Got to where it couldn’t keep the beat going at the pace I needed it to go if I wanted to keep traveling this path. It’s not that it didn’t care or didn’t want to… it just couldn’t. It’s not mine to judge it. I love my heart. But when it finally decided it didn’t want to beat anymore at all, I decided to step in and give it some help it probably didn’t even want at the time. I purchased a new appliance to help automate some of the systems work my heart had lost interest in. I had a pacemaker installed.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m shit when it comes to figuring out new appliances. I usually rely on Lisa for most of that. This one was no different. After the first couple of weeks I was wondering if I should have bothered. But eventually a smart young woman who specialized in pacemaker technology took the time to hear what my heart was trying to say. It was explaining what it needed, as my lungs breathlessly agreed. She was the only one who really listened, but one was all it took. She reached out to my heart and my heart lifted its head and smiled. And together they figured out how to keep time again.

So here I sit on a Friday morning in March. It’s an early spring day in Portland, Oregon. The air is moist and brisk. Flowering trees color every block in this neighborhood. Peas are popping up through the wet soil and overwintered broccoli waits to be picked. The darkness isn’t gone, but neither is the light. So I guess I’ll just try to keep pace with that part of life that swirls and settles in this little cove I’ve carved out for myself. I think my heart and I will go for a walk later. I’m sure it will be interesting… it always is.