Attempt at greatness

Run­ning hard up a steep hill, no shirt on, sweat and sali­va fly off an unkempt beard, breath hard and ragged and heavy. We pass a blind man going up, his stick held in front of him as he slow­ly climbs. The free­way roars to our right, imper­ma­nent hous­es stand silent to our left. We climb past well-kept gar­dens and aim for a gleam­ing work truck with wheels cramped to the curb, a white met­al cloud of guid­ance. It falls away off our right shoulder. 

The road curves, the final stretch in sight. We press hard­er, dri­ving our soles into the con­crete, run­ning out of oxy­gen, run­ning up our phys­i­cal debt, promis­ing lat­er pay­ment if only we can please keep going, des­per­ate to quit, unable to stop. The fin­ish is ahead and the top flat­tens out invit­ing us to slow and rest. The ease is a trap for the weak, for the unpre­pared, the unwill­ing. We charge past. Forc­ing our legs to move, we ignore our acid mus­cles, we dri­ve with our minds our­selves on to the end.

Pant­i­ng, we fin­ish. Hands in the air, gut mus­cles clench­ing with begin­ning dry heaves, lungs throb­bing, throat raw, we wan­der in small cir­cles at the top. The man­i­cured grass, the clean pick­et fence, the cracked con­crete road all pass in dizzy­ing order. We turn and walk down. Three more attempts at great­ness call us.

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