Time spent with Sibyl

(Courtesy lottongallery.com)

(Courtesy lottongallery.com)

His home was on the water.

The water was a noisy neighbor. Constantly thrashing, gurgling and slamming as it hurried along toward the sea. It was rude and pushy because it had to be. Sometimes his neighbor would break into his house in a drunken stupor and tear his furniture apart. Chairs would be flung. Paintings ripped and torn. The walls would be stained.

And then the apology would come. The sun would come out and the birds would sing songs of riveting remorse. She would sing, too. She would sing in a voice sweeter than Orpheus.

His body would shake. He was bitter and distraught. Despondent. And then he would give in. He would forgive. Goodbye to the bygones.

He loved his neighbor. She was confident, maybe even gallant. Beautiful, yet quietly powerful. She had a way of being. Simply. The bottom of her dress flowed forever, despite the incessant whispering of a jealous breeze. Always confident, but not swollen with pride.

On warm days the aging man would spend all day patiently sitting with her. He would hear the river shout, and he would understand. This, he thought, is knowledge. He heard wisdom in her rapids. The fish spoke of the infinite knowledge of their landlord. Their landlord had seen the world. From the West to the East, North and south. She had met the Earth in its’ infancy. She and the Earth were childhood friends!

Among the water the old man felt connected. It was as if being among such wise company made himself wiser. He was wise. There is so much – too much – to learn among a channel of cool blue.

The old man asked about the waves in the ocean. He felt the answer slide past his submerged ankles. And what about the grass? A bead of water rolled down his hair and dropped onto his leathery, sun-bleached  back. He senses the answer. His questions about the stars and the moon. All answered. He implores about the wind and the glowing ambers after a fire has long since fled. And the answer comes.

He bathed in the river, and she bathed in him. He drank from the river while she drank him in. She was nurtured by him and he was nurtured in return.

Sometimes he would just watch Sibyl (she needed a name) as she carried on her timeless task. She was Sisyphus, but more graceful, and much more content.

Sibyl spent much of her life as a mirror. The sun looked down on her so the sun could see its’ own reflection. The old man would look down at Sibyl to see himself in all his imperfection. He watched as his youthful skin, once pulled so tightly over his cheeks began to sag. His muscles, once so defined and promenant began to wither. He watched himself decay like a flower before winter.A corpse in the ground, but his heart was still puttering along.

Sibyl never gazed at herself. She had no worry. She was perfection. She had curves in all the right places. And her clothes were always turquoise. The old man told Sibyl often that she looked best in that color. So she wore it. Everyday.

And one day as he lowered himself into the lazy current, he was startled. Something was wrong. He looked down toward the water and saw his bellybutton above the current. The old man looked up from the water and shifted his gaze in the direction of the bank. There was water-beaten dirt exposed. He told himself it was normal. Natural. The diagnosis was promising. It was nothing more than a common cold.

He awoke early the next day to visit his gaunt-faced lover. She was doing worse than the day before. And he cried. Not because he knew it was over, but because he knew the ending was near. There was so much left to do. So much left to see. Journeys to make. Villains to slay. And as he cried he prayed that his tears could fill Sibyl’s thinning frame. He cried until he had no tears. And then he just sat, convulsing and heaving like a worm cut in half.

Eventually sleep came.

In the morning, he woke to gloomy morning light. He was curled up next to Sibyl, hoping he could comfort her with his presence. When he looked into her bony eyes, there was almost nothing left. A powerless stream of water, no more than an inch wide trickled past. Sibyl is the ghost of her former self. The old man rubbed his eyes, half expecting the mirage to dissipate. His hopes were left out to dry.

As the sun spiraled down toward the horizon, and reds, oranges and yellows splashed across the sky, the old man went into his house and grabbed a worn brass cup. He walked, like a patient walking for the first time after a coma, toward Sibyl. As darkness began to wash over the world, he dipped the brass cup into Sibyl’s withering body. The cup, now partly filled, was raised to his lips with trembling hands. His body was shaking.

The cup was cold on his dry, cracked lips. It felt surprisingly pleasant. He tilted the cup back and felt Sibyl within him. She felt beautiful on his tongue. And as he took her in, he felt himself growing dizzy. And then he was tired.

So the old man lay down on top of Sibyl, in the bottom of the riverbed. He heard her whisper her final words in his ear as Sibyl went dry. And then he blew out his last breath.

And he died, atop his deceased lover. He died as Sibyl flowed through his veins. Temporary is life, forever is death. Forever one.

Unadilla: From a bitter beginning comes a beloved buddy

img_1186.jpgLike all stories ever written or reflected upon, there is always a beginning. Sometimes you know when your own personal narrative starts, and other times your story begins without you even knowing. Your tale catches you by surprise while it sweeps you off your feet and begins to move you toward an unknown climax to your story. The plot twists, the characters interact and the story deepens.

I can still remember when my story started.

My story came upon me unexpectedly, and it walked, or should i say gaited, into my life on four sturdy black legs and a saddle on her back. Her name was Gypsy.

Prior to my sophomore year in high school, I had little to no understanding about anything horse related. In all honesty, I do not think that I had ever touched a horse at that point in my life. I knew exactly what horses were, but I could not understand them in any respects. That was where my knowledge about horses began and subsequently ended.

While I was leading a horseless existence, fate was concocting a chain of events that would end in a reexamination of my life and that would ultimately result in my introduction into the equestrian world. While I was doing something irrelevant and most likely unmemorable to my overall life, 125 miles away in Unadilla New York, a black mare named Blackberry was being pulled from the Unadilla horse auction. She was a spirited, middle-aged horse who was placed in the dark aisle, making her chances of finding a home slimmer than it would have otherwise been.

However, like all of life’s seemingly random events, this horse would be given a second chance. If we think of individual lives like a ball of yarn, this piece of fabric would continue to be pulled rather than cut. This horses string would be given the chance to play out, a chance it would not have had if a culmination of perfectly laid out moments had not happened.

And while I sat nearly three hours away, the string of my life began heading toward Blackberry’s string. I did not know it at the time, but eventually our strings would tangle, merge and begin to be pulled in the same direction. Whether I knew it or not, our strings were meant to be lie next to one another’s. If you told me at the time, however, I would not believe a word you were saying.

IMG_1323Fast forward about a month, and I was receiving news that my Mom was buying a horse. I knew that she was beginning to discover her love for the equestrian world, and it was a love that I had no concept of. She was purchasing a new horse. I knew that. It was a black mare. I understood that, too. The horses name was going to be Gypsy. Her old name, as it turns out, was Blackberry. Blackberry was rescued, brought back to a level of good health and now she was a member of my family.

Our first meeting was awkward to say the least. I was uncertain of this immense being. I had no prior knowledge that could give me some sort of solstice or act as a spring board to help me connect with her. Should I pet her? I had more questions than answers, and that scared me, but it also left me with an unrelenting hunger for answers. I left after our first encounter without knowing that I would come to love this black mare with that little patch of white between her eyes, and short, almost nonexistent mane.

As time began to pass, I found that I was spending an increasing amount of time at the stable that Gypsy lived in. Before I knew it, I had landed a job as a farm hand there. On the days I was not working, I found that I was taking the 20-minute drive over to the stable just to say hello. There was something about being with the horses. It was a nice reprieve from everything else in life.It was simple comfort. They were fascinating and yet so unbelievably real.

935666_10201160929605432_584923867_nGypsy, as I began to learn, loved Nature Valley bars. Honestly, however, I think it was just that she loves to eat, but then again, who doesn’t? I discovered that she enjoyed having the back of her ears gently rubbed. She was a pro at losing her fly mask. Great in cross ties and more than willing to be groomed. A little cranky when getting her girth tightened and impatient when dinner was being served. Endlessly gentle and unbelievably sweet. For all of her imperfections, I still began to uncover perfection.

For all that Unadilla gives away, it also gives back. I was given the chance to meet Gypsy. I was also handed the opportunity to become devoted to a cause.

And then there’s Gypsy. Gypsy was given a loving home. She was given somewhere to be loved, nurtured and grow old. Most importantly, she was given a second chance.

For all the second chances that are not given at Unadilla, there are also many that are handed out. And each new chance gives with it the propensity of changing many lives in varied and differing ways. This second chance gave one horse a new home, a mother her first horse and a young man an entirely new perspective on the world.

This is only one story. I would love to hear more about your stories. Please comment and share your stories below.

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Breakup, Breakdown and Breakthrough – Love is Still Alive

UnknownMaybe, at least in our hearts, we are all hopeless romantics – or maybe it’s just me – but I’m really okay with that when I really think about it. It could be that I’m overly optimistic, or maybe it’s just because I believe in fate and the basic principle that everybody was put on this Earth to make a difference in somebody else’s life. I’m not saying that I’m certain, but I’m telling you what I believe. It’s not like undying optimism has ever killed anyone, well maybe that’s not true, but I bet an optimist dies with a much better outlook than a pessimist. It seems to be everywhere though, this idea of love. I see it in people’s eyes, the way they look, the way they talk and maybe how they walk. Someone who is in love – or who thinks they’re in love – they act differently, they think differently, they’re different than somebody who has never felt that way. We may fall in and out of love, or maybe not, maybe it’s just that we forget what we love about someone else and have the once soft and compassionate emotions become destroyed by bitter dislike and unbridled disdain that seems to seep from our pores, but love still does not fade, it is only forgotten, like a dusty high school yearbook left in the attic until it is discovered years later by a curious child.

As I sat waiting for my train back home from school to see the one’s who I love most, I saw the many different faces that love is casually disguised as. I saw teen love. I saw the look in a woman’s eyes as she smiled broadly while talking on the phone to someone that she certainly loved in someway. Her hazel eyes radiating this sense of hope and cheerful bliss that stuck in my memory like honey on a young child’s fingers. She had a sense of purpose, a sense of rightness, she had something to come home to. Although the world could have been crumbling down on her at this very moment, this short amount of the time on the phone with a lover graced her with a momentary reprieve from everything else. She began to take on the look of a love struck teenager. Her free hand made her way up to her hair and, shortly thereafter, she began to twirl her hair around her finger – winding gently, and then releasing her hold in a way that allowed her hair to carelessly fall across the smile painted on her face. 333056_2115962157024_4165009_o

And then I saw the most beautiful kind of love there is. The love that has had the time to ferment. Love aged like a fine wine. Love that has been tested, beaten and battered over the course of decades but has still had the power, dare I say the courage, to persevere. This is the love that is not based on uncontrolled lust, but rather mutual understanding and respect for one another. Quiet, unspoken affection that was bred in earlier days that are now at the heart of thoughtful nostalgic reminiscing. It is casual love. More like that of best friends rather than actual lovers, but in their quiet casual talk, the way that their eyes patiently and passionately rest upon each other, I could feel the love. With each word, with each moment of eye contact, they still see the eyes of a lover who is still there despite the fact that time has weathered away their once strong, young features. It is in these people that I have made the discovery that love exists. Not just love, but true love. It is not just a Disney love story, but a non-fiction story better than any love story manufactured by a commercial entity that is aimed on promoting a fake ideology of what love should be.

Love could be anything. And sometimes it hurts. And sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes love needs work. And sometimes it is beyond repair. But for what it is worth, most of the time love is elegant; a perfectly tailored suit, a beautiful ballroom gown. It is tasteful and it is emblazoned with joyfulness.

But when it isn’t, it is hard. As college students, high school students, young adults and even for a larger majority of adults, breakups occur, and they are never easy. Circumstances change the once flower filled fields of love and replace them with a field of weeds. The warm embraces that at one time you never wanted to release grow cold and hurried. Things change and so do people, and as a result, love r

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uns cold.

It is never easy to say goodbye to love that was once so heated and filled with the benefits that love has to offer, but after the early feelings of withdrawal are forgotten, it is easy to adapt to life again without the person who once held such an important part of your heart. Before you know it, your will heart will be awoken by the early fiery passion of new love. When you say goodbye to an older lover, you open up your heart to the love that you were destined to hold there. Old loves tell us what we need in a relationship and they also tell us what we do not need. It leaves us with scars, but then again, smooth seas have never made skilled sailors. I’m still young, and I know very little about the true inner workings of love, but I do know one thing: it is living.

It breathes through our eyes, talks through our souls and bleeds from our hearts. It passes like the scenery outside the window of a moving train. Each love leaves snapshots in our minds of memories that we will never forget and memories that we wish would just vanish into the depth of our thoughts. Love is cruel, but it also is kind. It is tolerant, but is also selfish. It makes us find in us the best things about ourselves, but also makes us discover our own worst features. Love is the perfect embodiment of what it means to truly be living; to live for someone or something other than yourself.

It’s Basically Life and Death

Image“Only when you accept that one day you’ll die can you let go, and make the best out of life. And that’s the big secret. That’s the miracle.” – Gabriel Ba

From my short stint of time on this Earth, I have learned two definitive things: life is valuable, and death is greedy. Death constantly attempts to steal the preciousness of life, and often is very successful in its’ endeavors. Death is a resilient and hardened criminal; a trained thief. It has no understanding of the preciousness of life and the sentimentality that each life is worth to others. A life is not just the energy that fills a vessel, but it is also a father, a mother, a sister and a brother. It is that neighbor who you have known your entire life or that cute girl who you see around from time to time. It is that majestically crafted animal that you have come to love as your own. It is the trees, the grass, the plants and the vegetables. It is the air above us and the soil beneath us. It is everywhere.

But wherever there is life, you can guarantee there is death. This Earth has given us the opportunity for life, and at the same time, it has cursed us with the terror of death. We fight death, we allude death and we often fear death. Death is the universal equalizer, making it certain that even the strongest are capable of succumbing to it. Death is the unknown; taking us from what we are certain of, to something that science will never be able to explain and that religion can only claim to have an understanding of.

Death is always around us. It lurks in the shadows, patiently waiting for misfortune. Death preys on fate and gambles on chance. And sometimes death decides to look us straight in the eyes, and even though we fight and battle it, battles are still lost. Death understands that there needs to be balance although we wish that those we love could live forever. So even though we may use all the strength that we have to battle death, sometimes death comes out on top, claiming its’ bitter victory in the battle with life.

I’ve seen death before, I’ve felt its’ aftermath and I have feared its’ presence. I have seen young friends lost and I have seen fathers and mothers perish and leave this flawed Earth early to get a head start on making their way to the polished gates of heaven, where they happily embrace those who perished before them, and patiently await the arrival of the ones they left behind. I have watched children and old men battle with cancer. I have cheered in the moments of victory, and wept in the sourness of defeat.

Through it all, I have realized that who you are does not concern death; if death wants you, it can very easily take you, and it can take you at any age. Each day we walk on a tightrope between life and death. We need to understand that life is continually depleting; a gas tank heading toward empty with no gas station in sight. We find ourselves wasting away our time as we are enveloped in our petty disputes, our unimportant arguments and our unsubstantial problems. During all our minor inconveniences, our life is slowly dwindling away as if we are all candles with a flame burning away at our limited wick of life.

Even though death may tightly wrap its’ greedy, skinny and cold fingers around the lives of those who we hold so closely to ourselves, death has no way of grasping the memories of those lost that are held within the cozy embrace of our hearts. The smiles are never forgotten. The memories captured like a still frame in our mind do not disappear. Nor do the moments relived within our thoughts like grainy, discolored homemade movies. Death takes life, but it doesn’t take the precious moments that life generously and graciously sprinkles upon us.

So say goodbye to those we’ve lost. The ones who left early, and the ones who were able to grow gray. Be prepared for the lives that death will ultimately pluck from the fabric of mortal life. Let these lives live on though through fond memories of good times, never-ending laughter and warm embraces. Death wins sometimes, but life will battle, and ultimately, life prevails.

RIP to all those lost and good luck to all those who are battling.

“Death truly does have life, and walks with and lives through us everyday.” – Nicholas A. McGirr

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