_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

The pants started getting a little tighter even before Dec. 1 had rolled around — too much time in my car and at my desk, not enough using my body in the manner for which it was designed.

That I cared so much how I looked in my pants, I now recognize, was at the root of the problem.

So I took to the greenway, a couple two-three miles when I could steal some time or when the weather begged for it to happen. And the pants, they started to fit again.

I could have stopped there. But stop, I did not.

I started to steal more moments, apply more generosity to the conditions to get myself past the three-mile mark.

Because everything good happens after the first three miles.

And that was when I committed the sin.

It was crisp and sunny along the creekbed. I was going pretty good into the first mile, had already veered off the greenway and conquered the hills of Friendly and Mendenhall and was planning on a loop back through the park when I spotted the tracks.

You shouldn’t run on train tracks. Besides the fact that it greatly increases your chances of being hit by an oncoming train, train tracks are fraught with all sorts of danger for a body moving at high speed: steel and splintery wood, coarse gravel and uneven terrain. Got to keep your knees high and your wits sharp when you’re running along the train tracks. Not just anyone can pull this off.

That’s what I was telling myself at the exact moment I bit it.

My left foot caught the inside of the rail, tilting me off balance and my right knee took a jolt. I caught the steel rail in the ribs on the way down and then tumbled into the ditch. I think I was already laughing before I hit the ground, though I probably could have knocked myself out, or at least broken my collarbone. Good thing I’m on such a busy street, I thought to myself, which made me laugh some more. I had to limp all the way back to my car like that, laughing and staggering like a hobo who’s just found a winning lottery ticket.

It’s funny because I should have seen it coming. This is an a priori truth, a permanent characteristic of the human condition that I know well.

Hubris is what comes before the fall.

It happens in politics (talking to you, John Edwards) and it happens in sports (Joe Theisman) and it happens in business (does anyone under 30 know what a Xerox is?)

It’s also the basic plot of just about every single professional wrestling match I’ve ever witnessed. All who follow the spectacle with even cursory attention know what happens when you parade around the ring, throwing your hands in the air and soaking in the adulation of the crowd: Some heel sneaks up behind you and whacks you with a folding chair. It’s the way of the world, part of the cosmic joke.

It’s funny, too, because it hurts the most when I laugh.

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