Unadilla: A short reflection

Two weeks seem as if it is a short amount of time when you compare it to our relatively long lives. For myself, however, it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

Two weeks ago, I understood very little about how a horse auction was run. It wasn’t that I was ignorant, but rather that I just did not want to even have to imagine what a horse auction was like. So going into it, I had no expectations; I was a blank slate ready to be covered with feelings and emotions based off an experience that I had no prior expertise in. I did not even have previously seen photos to prepare myself for what I would be seeing.

But now I am no longer a blank slate.

At the auction I saw things that I will never be able to un-see. I felt feelings that I will never un-feel. I had emotions run through me that I did not even have words to express. I tried to convey my experience using the best words that I could, but sometimes words are just not enough. I took pictures, yet those pictures still do not adequately portray what it is like to actually be there. Pictures may paint a thousand words, but actual experience of an event writes a novel.

Despite having to be a part of something that was truly heartbreaking, I can confidently say that I do not regret going to the Unadilla horse auction. If nothing else, it acted as an event that will now forever mold the rest of my life. Witnessing a horse auction created an infinite amount of desire in me to do what I can to raise awareness about a cause that I personally saw the darkness of. At the same time,however, I also got to feel the joy that comes with saving another living creatures life. It is this mixture of emotions that I felt within myself that I hope to use as fuel for motivating myself to continue writing about this topic.

Right now as I sit here, I understand that the horses that I saw sold to slaughter are no longer mortal, living things. They are no longer bodies filled with light and the peppiness of life. They will never again be someones pet. Eyes once radiating with light, enthusiasm and hopefulness have now grown dim. They will, however, live on in my memory. I will never forget the look of that one chestnut mare awaiting death in the stable after the auction. I was the last friendly touch she would ever feel.

With a heart full of remembrance and a mind in constant recollection of my first auction, I will continue to promote the stories of those who go to these rescues. The people who consistently see what most are too afraid to see. The people who change the lives of horses, one auction at a time. Those who give hope to horses who do not understand that their hope was slowly running out. They are the people who, by saving one horses lives, have the possibility of bringing a once abandoned horse to the home of someone who will love them unconditionally. In saving one life, you have the capacity to enhance others.

These are the people who are true heroes. Changing the world for one horse at a time. People who give their time so that horses can have more time.

More to come soon.

Newtown: A New Hope

images-1From the ashes of terror sometimes rises a new hope for humanity. Sometimes it is through ruthless violence that the twine that holds all of humanity together is tightened. It is in sorrow that the masses are brought together by a common feeling felt among everyone; uncertainty, fear, and anxiety over where the future is heading. In this togetherness, a togetherness that I sometimes wish would never have to be observed, new ideas are formed for the bettering of tomorrow. Sadly, this change is not initiated until innocent lives are used as an unfortunate example.

images-2In the wake of Newtown, 20 desks with scented erasers and Ticonderoga #2 pencils will forever be empty. 20 beds forever yearning for the warmth of a body lying on top of them. 20 children’s lives that have been stripped prematurely from this Earth, removing all the hopes and aspirations these children may have had. Turning out the lights on futures that until that fateful day had shone so brightly.

Six. Six teachers who will not have the pleasure of another first day of school. Six families who lost a husband, a wife, daughter or son. Six lives lost attempting to preserve the lives of countless five and six-year olds. People destroyed for doing a job that they loved; mentoring the youth of America.

imagesOne. One man with a desire to cause pain. One idea that was carried out in an average, small town elementary school; a school not so different from the one that we all attended growing up. One man who will forever live in infamy, not to be judged in this world by myself, but to be judged in front of the great creator whose scale is easily tipped by the heaviness of unneeded and uncalled for sin.

But there is more that has come out of Newtown.

Newtown has left the nation debating the use of guns. It has become a battle between the constitution and the people. American’s have the right to bare arms, but what kind of arms? It is an argument that may cause change, and it also may not, but at the end of the day, this is now a major discussion. America is beginning to reexamine its’ own values which for some is a long needed endeavor, while others remain happy with the status quo. Some ask, “why do you need assault rifles?” Others then answer, “It’s not guns who kill people, people do.” It is a debate as old as time, but after Newtown, it is a debate that is going to be settled. By re-examining gun laws, we may ensure that another 26 families will never again have to mourn.

Newtown has also brought mental health issues to the forefront. It is a topic that has been looked over almost my entire life. Barely discussed in the news, and not spoken about in government very often either. Adam Lanza’s mother knew her son was ill, but she had nowhere to turn. Having a mentally disturbed son could have the propensity of ostracizing them from the neighborhood. Newtown left America pondering the ways in which we view mental illness. We have begun re-examining the stigma we have often attached to it.

The role of the media has also been called into question. As always, with these kinds of events, the media is chastised for seemingly appearing to have no sympathy for victim’s families. But Newtown also revealed something else; the media’s yearning for getting the information first despite the possibility of this information being incorrect sometimes. The media continually speculated and put information on air or in print that just was not correct. The balance of timeliness and correctness has become a reason for the media to look at itself and decide which is more important and how to better balance the two.

There is no way of bringing back any of the lives lost in Newtown. Death draws a firm line in which mortality constantly walks along. Once this line is crossed, however, death rarely releases its’ cruel grasp. These lives live on though in this tide of possible social change. As society begins to look more closely at itself each lost life becomes more alive. With each new law or act of awareness, a life is symbolically brought back into our world. These lives live on as long as we ensure that their demise was not for nothing; that their loss of life will be the basis for saving others. Nothing will ever make it right, but we would be doing them a disservice if we neglect to initiate change in the memory of those lives gone, but never forgotten.


America the Beautiful

IMG_1325Only a few days ago, I attended a moment of American history. I watched as President Barack Obama was sworn into the highest public office in America. In the early morning hours before the inauguration began I saw the sun raising over a Capitol Building that was still shrouded in the evenings darkness. While watching I noticed that this was symbolic of new hope for the next four years. It was a day of hope, hope that the next four years will be better. Hope that the problems of today will be the victories of yesterday. The basic ideas that brighter days are on the horizon and the American people will continue moving forward. It was symbolic that although our political views sometimes divide us, we all still strive for the same goal; a better America and a better future. It was a day that did not matter whether you were Democratic or Republican, Conservative or Liberal. We were all Americans. All people with the common belief that as bad as things may be sometimes, we are part of the most magnificent country in the world. We are part of something beautiful. A country as beautiful as all the men, women and children who inhabit it; we are part of America the beautiful.

Hello, Fall

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”

-Stanley Horowitz

There is something unmistakably remarkable about fall. There is an indescribable feeling in the air. The way that days can be dreadfully warm, but nights are crisp and cool. The feeling of frigid air being sucked into your lungs is a drastic change from the heavy, humid air of summer. The way the air feels lighter. Fall is a time of change. Fall says goodbye to summer, but with the promise that summer will be back again next year. Fall is a kind change. A gentle transition from the dog-days of summer into the leaf-cluttered streets of fall. There is a unique change in the human senses upon the arrival of fall. There is a certain smell of nippy fall mornings. The characteristic crunch of leaves under your feet. Leaves scattered across the street like a collage created from the heavens. The yellow, red and orange leaves that linger over the horizon, presenting an entirely new palate of color to an otherwise colorless world. Comfort in fall is nothing more than a cozy sweatshirt and a cup of tea. Whatever it may be, fall welcomes change, it says goodbye to what was. For some it is a welcomed entity, offering a new spin on life and a new beginning. For others, fall is not welcomed. Fall can present nostalgia for what used to be. Whatever it may be, change in fall is inevitable, and for many freshmen in college, as well as many other students, I would whole-heartily believe that fall has presented an enormous change.

Coming into college I was someone who I would now see as being ignorant. I might call it immature, or maybe I was just like any other 17 or 18 year-old boy who was going away from home for the first time. I thought that I knew what it was like to be responsible. I was a legal adult. I knew everything, and because of a sheer unwillingness to accept anything other than my own beliefs, I convinced myself that I had already grown into adulthood.

I was dead wrong. I soon realized what it meant to live without my parents. It may not have been that it was what I wanted to do, but based on the circumstances, it was what I had to do. I began to make my own decisions, and early on, I often made the wrong decision. It was blatantly obvious that I had to regroup and make changes within myself, a task that many freshman find themselves doing.

It began with my study habits. Although I did an above average job of skating-by in high school, I noticed early on that it would no longer work. As the first few weeks of school passed, I saw a dramatic change in my study habits. I no longer waited until the night before an assignment was due to begin working on it. I put pride into each paper that I submitted. For the first time in my life, I decided that school work came before anything else. It could have been the realization that my parents are spending so much money on my education that caused me to become motivated. Then again, it could also have been that I was just comprehending that the work I was being given was for my own benefit. My study habits changed like the warm breeze of early fall changes to the stinging bitterness of a cold gust of wind in late fall.

I have seen a change in my friends as well. The people whom I thought would become my most loyal companions have slowly vanished into a sea of unfamiliar faces. Those who I thought I would never know became the people who I look to in times of need, the moments at college when I was at my weakest. With much remorse I have had to slowly pull away from people who were leading me in an undesirable direction, and subsequently surround myself with people who I could more easily relate with. Just as the leaves of summer vanish from the branches that once held them by late fall, so did many of my early friends. It may be saddening to some, but with each goodbye there awaits a new opportunity.

I would like to think that I have matured after the first 10 weeks of college. I would like to believe that I am the adult that I thought I was when I left for college. Maybe I have changed for the better and done some growing up, but maybe growing up a little is realizing that you still have a lot of growing to do as an individual. The person that believes that they have grown into the perfect version of themselves are those who have grown the least. It can be inferred that the wisest and most knowledgable mind is the mind that never stops listening; it never stops growing. Fall may have changed me, and it may have changed me for the better. It could have caused me to grow, but if there is anything that I can take away from this fall, it is the idea that just as fall continues to change, I will continue to change. I will never again believe that what I currently am is all that I should forever be. So like the fall breeze and the fall leaves, I will change.

What goes for me does not go for all. Maybe some of you out there have watched yourself change in much different ways. Maybe you have become more cynical. Have you become more trusting in the world? Some may have seen their normally stellar grades slip into disrepair. For some their choices may have become impaired by the longing to be a part of something that they could have found in so many different places. So before I say goodbye, I would like to ask just one simple question; how have you changed throughout fall?

Nothing is more fleeting than external form, which withers and alters like the flowers of the field at the appearance of autumn.

-Umberto Eco