One Way Ticket

9/4/18: There is a bird that lives in Mexico called the Resplendent Quetzel. The male has a beautiful green and red and white body with a three foot long tail feather that flows behind him like a streamer when he flies. At the end of mating season, the tail feather falls off. He grows a new one the next year.

10/4/18: Neighbor Jim has gone off to Ireland for two months. I had gotten used to seeing him almost every day, if only in passing, and my days feel oddly stiller now than they did with him around. I feel more restless now too, but that is about to change. I’ve got a one-way ticket in my metaphorical pocket and it belongs there, it is time. I’d say past time, except for the fact that staying here this long has allowed me regular meetings with Robin that I desperately needed, and the chance to begin working with Gina and the horses, both of which have done me good. 

Today was my last equine therapy session till at least next spring. I rode Sienna and practiced posting, then visited Ethel and her new, though temporary, field-mate called Cupcake. Cupcake came from an Amish farm where she was the lead in a team of horses. She has whip marks permanently etched across her flanks. Gina and a friend bought her and another horse from the team from a woman who picked them up as a pair at auction from the Amish farmer, then shipped them west but found she couldn’t keep them. They have gone from home to home, but in my opinion they are home at last. Before leaving I fed carrots to the horses. “Will Ethel remember me?” I asked. “Maybe not the sight or smell of you the way a dog does, but she’ll remember your energy,” she said. Poor thing, I thought. Gina gave me a ride back into town and I hugged her tight across the console. She told me I’m one of the bravest people she has ever met. I could only weep, feeling anything but brave.

10/15/18: I leave tonight for Ireland, England, then India, where Mark will meet me at the Mumbai airport. He’s currently in Pakistan riding around on a rented bike. I wonder if I were doing what he is doing, riding alone through a Muslim country, how I would fare. 

Robin thinks India is a problematic choice for me at this time. Poverty is extreme and widespread there, she told me, worse than any I’ve ever encountered. It takes many forms. Of course I know this in theory, but now I’m going to see for myself. She’s worried I’ll be overcome by the abundance of suffering all around me. “How do I avoid that?” I asked her. She said it might help me if, rather than focusing on the particular cruelties I witness and feeling helpless to change anything, I am able instead to observe how the people I see navigate the obstacles they face, how they deal with their pain. 

Right now I don’t think about that. For now I think about all the things I will see, smell, taste and hear that are entirely new to me: colors, spices, languages, animals, customs, landscape. And things I’m sure I cannot yet imagine. 

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