Thursday, March 17, 2011

a distinct freedom

This is something about love, or an element that is like love, but exists someplace else.  It is one of the things I know to be true, and must therefore protect.  It's a gift.

I own a horse; he is almost ten years old.  For so many years, riding was the focal point that the rest of my life arranged itself around.  Even when I had other concerns: jobs, lost or never found loves, high school and its awkward pains and unfounded stresses.  Even while I began to love the man I would love forever, I remained steadfast to that first romance.  The smell of hay and the feel of coarse mane tangled through my fingers.  Leather boots and riding gloves, and after a long day feeling tired but not too tired to stand around in barn alleyways.  To linger in the yard, listening to the horses move around in their pens with a grace they don't know they have, and thus can never put on as an act.

For a long time my horse lived in a pen right below the big dipper and the north star.  I remember walking him out at night in the wintertime, seeing my breath and looking up at the constellations.  Alberta is so vast -- it is a wide and wild place.  I am lucky to have such a sky spread out its story for me.  I would stand in the driveway, lead rope in hand, staring up.  Not worrying.

The days stack up on each other, just building and building, slowly burying those sweet days and nights deeper below what I've deemed important to me now.  Farmers markets on Saturday mornings instead of riding lessons.  Dinner and beers on weeknights instead of standing under the stars, lead rope in hand.  There is nothing wrong with these choices -- these replacements -- and they're lovely in a different sort of way.  But my first love, its voice muffled by new days, wonders where I've been.

Tonight I lie awake, slipping my hand into insomnia's lukewarm palm, allowing the concerns I've pushed aside all day to gather around me like mayflies in the summertime and I think about moments I've had.  Moments of distinct freedom.  A freedom from sound and gravity and breath, and a freedom to keep trying again to get to that place.

A horse is a natural jumper, he wouldn't leap over the objects I put in front of him if he didn't want to.  I can't go that high on my own -- my feeble legs would never take me.  My own body isn't made for it.  But he can do it so effortlessly, so enthusiastically.  I am so grateful.

At the apex of every jump there is a moment distinct from all other moments, and it is so brief that for so many years I forgot to notice it.  An interstice that shuts out sound and fear and careful planning.  It's a fraction of a second.  It's nothing.  It's not any single thing, and it is perfect.

It is a distinct freedom.

I've left it for a long time, allowing myself to think it lives somewhere else.  I haven't found it again.


  1. Come back to it ... it's still there and it misses you ...

  2. There are always sTages in life. When the noise of life quieTens, the ones most True will always whisper your name, They call your hearT To once again long for those quieTer, simpler Times.
    UnTil you reuniTe.