Trying for something

In life, there are moments where you’re torn between wanting something and being absolutely gun-shy about pursuing it again because you had been there before but, in the end, it came at an emotional cost.

I’m not talking about emotionally intimate relationships between two people. I could talk about that ad nauseum if I wanted to. But that would mean naming names and I’m not in the frame of mind to go and piss off some people… yet. I would have to be at a point in my life where I couldn’t give a fuck anymore, have nothing to lose and have an overwhelming desire to call people out on their shit. I’ve had people defend themselves by verbally going after me. Yeah, I’ve seen that tactic in action. At least, I own my shit. Can’t say the same for anyone else.

I’m talking about following your heart’s simple yearning. I’m talking about wanting a four-legged companion. Sure, it might seem silly or mundane or frivolous. I beg to differ. And I know animal lovers and pet owners would beg to differ. This desire popped up and started nagging me last week.

A few days ago, one of my colleagues was working on sports page carrying a story about a local jockey and a race horse who loves to run a good distance — anything over a mile. It spurred her to ask me if I missed horseback riding, missed being around horses. My answer was ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ After putting down my horse as a result of a hoof disease called founder, back in February 2009, I lost my desire to get back into the saddle. Didn’t think I would, but I did.

Chaplin and I had been together for almost ten years. He was sixteen years old when he died. Just past prime and entering old age. I had retired him from competition the year before. We were the horse/rider version of the Bickersons. We had our ‘discussions’ but I was committed to him and he needed me. He was never a mean horse. His good looks made young female equestrians stare at him in awe. However he was stubborn, smart and quite cheeky — ergo the numerous ‘discussions’ we would have during our practice rides, lessons, riding clinics and dressage competitions. But once he was in the mood to work and realized he had to work, we did some pretty cool things together.

I was a hands-on owner when it came to Chappy. For example, if he needed his legs treated with clay or heat-inducing ointment and wrapped overnight, I would do it every afternoon before I headed to work. The barn staff could have easily done the work for me but it gave me the opportunity to hang with Chappy.

I’ll admit he stole my heart the first time I ever laid eyes on him almost a year before we became partners. Even though it’s been four years since he died, I still miss him. Sometimes, the pain and ache comes barreling at me full force or it sneaks up behind me and wraps itself around my heart and gives it a firm, but gentle, squeeze.

A part of me would like to see how I would do if I got back in the saddle after all this time. I’ve watched some dressage clinics post-Chaplin. I’ve watched my clinician coach work with a horse and rider and vividly remember doing the same things with Chappy. The memories were and are quite powerful and visceral.

I know my dressage coach would love to see me back in the saddle, back with my barn family. I’ll have to wait until I’ve paid off my mortgage before I would consider a serious return to riding. I’m an all-in kind of person. If I decide to do something, I’m committed to it 100%. I loved being a horse owner. It kept me grounded.

The conversation I had with my colleague moved from horses to house pets. More specifically, my lack of a house pet.

Four months before Chaplin died, my cat, Otis, had to be put down. His health was failing and I couldn’t let him suffer anymore. He was the gentlest feline soul I had ever met. He was thirteen when he died. He came into my life as a one-year-old in need of a home. He took to me instantly. Snuggling with me in bed, the first night he stayed with me, it was clear both him and Chappy were very good at stealing my heart. It was also clear the three of us were meant to be together.

Aside from my blood relatives, I considered Chappy and Otis my family. Still do. Hell, I even had a family ring created two years after their deaths. Aquamarine, diamond and peridot make up the trio on my ring. It’s my small way of remembering them and honouring the impact they had on my life.

They came into my life at a time I needed them. I came into their lives at a time they needed me.They kept me sane. They always entertained me and I’m pretty sure I entertained them, too. I didn’t realize how we needed each other until much later.

The decisions to put them down were made fairly quickly. I always knew that if their quality of life would be greatly diminished no matter what kind of medical intervention was used, I would let them go. I always knew the moment I agreed to watch over them, to love them and be their human guardian, that was the course of action I would take in the end.

My colleague said despite the eventual heartbreak having a four-legged companion die, everything before that final moment was worth the experience and would always overshadow their death. The unconditional love and acceptance animals offer their human companions was, and is always something to cherish and appreciate. I know she’s right. For me, it’s about getting past the sorrow and resolving the self-created issues surrounding having an animal in my life. When I can deal with that, I can let a fluff ball or two run around the homestead.

The idea of a couple of fluff balls in my life is very attractive and comforting. But I need to be in the frame of mind to want that and to see it as a no-brainer thing to do. Right now, it’s not so no-brainer. I believe the time will come. When? Haven’t got a bloody clue.

Maybe the time will come when I’m okay with having my heart broken again. Without a doubt, losing Chaplin and Otis in a span of four months broke my heart, and the reverberations are still being felt.

To quote Elizabeth Gilbert, “This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”

I know I tried for something and found something with Chaplin and Otis. Now that they’re gone, I hope one day, I will do more than simply want to try for something again.

From hate to love

We must love one another or die
— from the poem, September 1, 1939 by W.H. Auden

I won’t deny that for some, it is easier to hate than to love. But hate inevitably consumes and leaves nothing behind. Nobody wins. At one time or another, either as the receivers or the givers, we have all experienced hate. I’m not sure what is more unsettling or frightening — to hate someone or to be hated by someone.

But I think it’s more frightening to hate.

I have a mental list of people I intensely dislike, a couple of them probably borders on hate. Who doesn’t have a list? Seriously, folks.

But I don’t look at the list. Why would I? If you semi-regularly look at your list, it will just make your blood boil and fantasies of bloodshed and mayhem pop into your head. What? You don’t think that way? Okay. Just warning ya. I think that way. Just be glad I only daydream about it but don’t do it. Consider it a play on the phrase ‘you can look but don’t touch.’

Over the course of a lifetime, you meet people you end up liking, people you end up loving and people who just rub you the wrong way. No matter how neutral and open-minded you try be around them, they just fucking rub you the wrong way. Yep, I’ve met plenty of those fuckers. We all have. Most of the time, we just wish the buggers would go away. Personally, I just want the buggers to fuck off and die.

But that never happens. So, we have to learn to deal with the people and things that annoy us. Let’s face it, life is about challenges. It’s about facing them and figuring out how to navigate them with the least amount of negative consequences for yourself and the people in your life.

I’ve had my fair share of challenges and I know the challenges won’t stop until I stop breathing. Some of those challenges should have sent me in spiralling into some form of depression. There were other challenges that could have easily landed me behind bars. It would have been so easy to let go of all reason and do unthinkable and unimaginable things to someone. We all have the ability to do that. It’s part of human nature. I have no problem embracing the dark side of my personality. It’s easy to explore without actually feeling compelled to act on it. It’s one of the numerous things that keeps me from being lumped in with the murderous malcontents, psychopaths and sociopaths of the world.

I’ve been lucky enough to never have experienced depression in its most debilitating manifestations. Yeah, I’ve been down about a lot of things. I’ve been deeply disappointed by people and circumstances. And I’ve been angry about a number of things, too. But I’ve never been angry enough to lose all common sense and pick up a crowbar and swing it into someone’s skull. To be honest, I’ve never been pushed to the point where I would lose control. Let’s just hope I never meet the person who has the ability to push that button because I know I will pick up that crowbar. Like it or not, we all have that button.

Thankfully, a part of my psyche won’t allow me to descend into the true depths of despair and hate. It is, literally, physically uncomfortable to live in negativity.

The instinct to fight my way out of negativity is strong. But at the same time, I don’t suppress the negative feelings either. I have to work through them in order to get past them. They have to exist in order for me to deal with them. Ignoring them doesn’t work. Those feelings will only come back later with a vengeance when you least expect it. The threat of it being all-consuming will be even greater.

I’ve had friends and acquaintances advise me to not waste my time and energy steaming over a situation I know I can’t fix. They tell me it will only bring me down. Of course, I fucking know that. The thing is, steaming over something or someone is part of the process of getting on with my life. It has to run its course. The length of the process always depends on the intensity of emotion at the time. It can take a matter of minutes, months or years.

There is truth to time healing all wounds even though some seemingly healed wounds still have the ability to crack open and bleed quite easily. I have one semi-fresh emotional wound that will take a long time to heal. I have my good days. I have my bad days. Thankfully, there are more good days than bad. The frustration and confusion linger but I know there isn’t much I can do. So what do I do? Move on. I need to move on. Being stuck emotionally in place where there is nowhere to go sucks. Given half the chance, it will kill the spirit.

My spirit isn’t dead. Nor will it ever be dead. Even with the battle scars I’ve earned in this lifetime, the spirit shines brightly because love makes it shine brightly. When I have my moments where I ask myself ‘Will I ever find love? Will I ever know love?’, I just look at my friends and family and I know deep down I am loved.

Lemons and lifejackets

The first six months of 2013 has gone by in a blink of an eye. How did the first half of 2013 go? Not bad. There was the good, the bad and the stressful. Typical shit.

I suppose I should be grateful because I’m still alive and wanting to kick some ass. Anybody reading this should be grateful that they’re still alive and wanting to kick some ass, too.

But I have a problem of not counting my blessings or the good things I have in my life. Maybe if I did that more often, the desire to swing a baseball bat or crowbar at the head of some sorry excuse for a human being wouldn’t rear its ugly little head so often.

Don’t worry, this desire comes and goes. For the first part of the year, it rarely made an appearance. I was in a good place… except for the last month. Lingers like a rotting corpse. As the saying goes, what goes up… must come down. The funny thing is that while I may not be emotionally on my game, it hasn’t stopped me from working on my writing and photographic projects.

Some say creativity can come out of a place of disappointment and pain. I suppose that’s why there is some expectation for an artistically-inclined person to be emotionally-tortured and angst-ridden in order to create a piece of visual art, music, literature, choreography, etc.

Does creativity come out of a place of pain and disappointment? If you must simplify it, then, for some people, yes. I guess you could include me in that group. However, creating something inspired by pain doesn’t mean the creator is masochistically wallowing in the pain. Well… that may be true for some, but not for me. I believe it’s more a case of exorcising the pain and turning it into something beautiful. Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or in my case, you slice up the lemons and garnish a tall tumbler of gin and tonic with it. No gin and tonic? Throw the juice of the lemons in with garlic, chickpeas, tahini and olive oil, and make hummus.

So yeah, I’m sorting out some shit while trying to avoid wallowing in self-doubt. I could drink my troubles away but my liver refuses to be pickled. Hard drugs are and were never an option. But I’ll smoke the odd joint — nothing stronger than that. I know I’ll end up in the hospital if I do.

Creating something beautiful out of something I never thought would go sour and die so quickly without a fight, is life-affirming to me. It means my coping mechanisms worked. It means I’ve turned the negative energy that threatened to swallow me whole into a positive energy that became my life jacket. It means I’m a survivor.

Right now, I’m busy making that life jacket. I’m getting better at making them. I have a small pile of tattered life jackets sitting in the figurative boathouse. I’d use one of them if I could, but each one of them was created for a specific problem and situation. None of them are suitable for the current problem.

Come hell or high water, I’ll survive. I’ll thrive, grow and glow in the love given to me by my friends and family who love and protect me. They know I would do the same for them.

Note: I’ll be taking a two-week break from blogging to take on an artistic and educational endeavour that could very well keep me from regularly posting a blog for the next two Mondays. Given that I will be in a different part of the world, wi-fi signals have proven to be notoriously weak. What I hope will happen, assuming the wi-fi signals are stronger than I remember two years ago, I might be able post very short blogs whenever I can. If that doesn’t come to fruition, then I’ll share my adventures with you when I return. See you three Mondays from today.