Huddle up, self. Take a knee.

What are you doing out there?

More importantly, why? Why have I carefully cultivated my physique? It is perishable. Death will consume it. It doesn’t matter.

My body was a temple, and I exalted its every column and spire. And for what purpose? Whatever age doesn’t undo, tiny microbes will devour. Not even the best D can help me now.

Every sit-up was meaningless. Every expertly executed lunge was immediately nullified by its own insignificance. No matter the skill, no matter the technique, no squat thrust was ever anything more than just an activity to fill the minutes and days before Death delivers my final red card.

The clipboard I scribble these words on buckles beneath the weight of my thoughts.

Physical education was my alchemy. “No pain, no gain” was my code of ethics. I scoffed at my colleagues’ baser pursuits: home and career skills, economics, social studies. The more they changed the lock on the teachers’ lounge without telling me, the more confident I was of the nobility of my ambitions. I, having surfed the wave of indignation and wiped out, now realize the flaw in my logic. Death is hurtling at me and it ain’t no Nerf product: it’s gonna hit hard. It’s more like a medicine ball. Those things hurt.

Will my body disintegrate, leaving my bones scantily shrouded in a mesh pinny? Is there a locker room after death? One to which we retire after losing The Game? One where God tells us it isn’t about winning or losing? Is death a mere halftime, from which we re-emerge hydrated and with a new defensive line?

I’m trying to be a good sport. I’m trying to close my eyes and visualize victory over my opponent. I’m trying to visualize myself lining up, slapping Death’s hand, and saying, “Good game.” I’m trying to visualize donning all black, borrowing my dad’s car, and stealing Death’s mascot. I’m trying to visualize flirting with Death’s head-cheerleader girlfriend at a college party hosted by the nearby state school. I mean, if this isn’t a fucking breakaway on the path to enlightenment, let me know and I’ll quit wasting my time.

Oh, that I could shed mortality like a pair of tear-aways!

So take a lap, Vanity. You’ve blinded me long enough. The divine stopwatch ticks and I’m trying to beat the record.