Such an array of extreme emotions, so many choices – Dreams and fears are real here and more than just voices.
A few years ago, I attended a “graduation” of sorts at Warm Springs Institute in Georgia. The ceremony marked the end of a rehabilitation program designed to merge challenged citizens into the real world as productive citizens. Most were learning to cope with physical handicaps as a result of birth complications or due to impairing accidents. Some, like my brother, were dealing with brain irregularities. They were all taught certain skills which co-coordinated with their individual interests and capabilities. Celebrations ran high. They were so proud of their achievements. We were proud of them. They now felt like they had a place, a chance to blend with the “normal” world. This marked the end of the struggle and was just the beginning of a new and better life. Such high hopes and expectations. It was such an emotional day, so full of promise after living through such hardships. I cried as they laughed.
Fast forward to last weekend where I attended the Ultimate Rescue Challenge sponsored by the Georgia Equine Rescue League. Not unlike the graduates mentioned above, these horses had survived indescribable hardships of abuse and starvation. They were hurt, damaged and fearful of what the world had to offer them – kindness or cruelty? They had undergone a 120 day training session to get them ready for the real world – a permanent home. What I saw was an impossibly strong connection between horse and trainer that allowed these equine partners to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and give their all. Were they perfect? Of course not and some would never be able to function as a normal “riding”horse. But they all had value and gave everything they possibly could. They all had a place where they could excel in the right setting and situation. Much like the graduates of Warm Springs, these graduates of rescue were being celebrated for their accomplishments and potential while being painfully aware of the limitations. I cried as their stories were told.
Wondering what the future holds.
The possibilities are endless as to the future of these graduates – both human and horse. Graduation Day was the high point of their lives so far and then tomorrow it all ends and they are thrown into the world, ready or not. The world can be a wonderful place with an ending that they live happily ever after in the perfect homes and jobs, or ….. Only time will tell how well they can fill in the gaps needed to make it all work out for the best and what their destiny will be. It is hard enough to make it without dealing with unfair handicaps. I choose to believe that, given a chance, they will change the way they have had to look at the world and put the darker side behind them. I watched the culmination of those graduations and felt all those emotions stir inside me that an unfortunate past and unknown future holds. I was moved by the euphoric sensations and just as strongly fearful of the outcome. I prayed for the best and I cried.
I am not saying all those fast and furious days are past – That on occasion I won’t be feeling the need. I am just saying that I am finding more here lately that I am built more for comfort than for speed.
A while back I wrote a story titled “Hay, Don’t I know you?” It was about a pretty little palomino named named Caramel who was sold and moved away from her friends and her herd. After a few years went by, she was returned to that very farm and the remaining herd. Re-introducing her to the other horses was a very intimidating event for little Caramel as things change, new friendships replaced the ones she knew and a new hierarchy had been formed. As a rule, the new horse has to take some bullying to see where she fits in. As they were opening the gate to the pasture to turn her out with the others, she was nervous. She felt alone, friendless and unsure. She knew how it worked and they were gathered around waiting for her. Suddenly, the group parted and her once best friend, Bella, walked right up to her and together they walked off without incident. Bella was a huge and powerful draft horse who was held in high esteem by her peers. She put herself at risk to defend her little buddy if needed. The absent years, the new relationships, the differences in them did not matter. They were friends. There was a connection that time and life events could not erase.
A trusted friend.
I kind of felt like Caramel last weekend when I attended my 45th class reunion – not sure how I would be received. After all, it had been a long time and some things weren’t left on the best terms. I found that it didn’t matter what had happened during the last 45+ years to me or to my former classmates or how much we had changed. The ones that I felt a powerful connection or draw to those many years ago were the very ones I still felt that rare and wonderful feeling for. That elusive attraction was still there on some spiritual level. One of life’s greatest mysteries to me has always been what element exactly dictates why certain people strike a certain chord with you that the rest of the world doesn’t. I have to believe that we recognize something inexplicable – something in our very souls. Yes, 45 years is a long time, but I learned an important lesson from Caramel’s story and my recent reunion. Time may change many things but when it comes to matters of the heart, it stands still. I had the most wonderful and memorable reunions of my life. Gaps were filled, some that I wasn’t even aware existed. I have always been a little on the shy and introverted side and prefer fewer quality relationships and friendships over quantity. That being said, my point is: If you are one of those few people who I feel this bond with, it doesn’t matter how many years go by or what path life may lead us down, you will always hold a special place in my heart. That doesn’t change.