Monday, March 22, 2010

Physical Evidence and the Ephemoral Art of Life

It is Monday again, in the seemingly never ending repetition of the days of the year, and the years of the eons, and it marks the first week post death of Atlas. This week I have been on a roller coaster of an emotional ride of deep depression and puzzlement over the how and whys, and all the other questions one asks in a death of a person, animal, or relationship.

There is one thing that stands out tho, that I have noticed more with this particular loss that I really hadn't given much thought to before in similar situations of grief. That is my intense desire this time, to have some sort of physical evidence of this colt's life with me, proof that he lived, that he was my friend, what he looked like, smelled like, sounded like, etc.

I made one huge mistake with this young horse. I assumed. I just assumed, that he would be there, healthy, and with a future that was untold and full of promise. I was so wrong and in realizing this now, I realize the mistake I made in not taking more photos of him. I have not one minute of video with me riding him. I was waiting for shedding season. I was waiting for him to get a little bit more experience under saddle. There were no end to excuses to put off recording more about him because I just assumed the impossible, that I had an infinite amount  of time ahead with him.

It has made me take notice and soak in a few things about just how ephemeral this whole life thing is and how much we humans really want our time here, our experiences, our thoughts, our loves here to have meant something and to have some evidence that we, and these things we have cherished, both mattered and really did exist. We want to keep our memories for as long as possible and will go to great ends to fabricate a way to do so. We want proof by physical evidence.

This need to show others that our lives counted has been perhaps the leading motivation for the creation of all types of art, literature, architecture, and such thru the history of humanity, from the caves of Lascaux, to the Arc de Triumph, the great Pyramids, and the paintings and scultptures in the Louvre and in all the other museums world wide. Humans have found some way to tell the stories of our lives and our thoughts thru these expressions of art and literature. We have built great monuments to the intended eternity of the memories of our existences. These art expressions are our way of leaving our foot prints.

The fact that any of us are even here at all is a phenominal and improbable happening. We are all just groups of atoms that happened to randomly jump into this form for a brief period of time and when they are done with this grouping they will move on to another form. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. It is our spritual nature that sets us apart as a species and it is in our striving for this eternity of our memories that we have done beautiful and glorious things. Sadly tho, these memory markers too, will at some point vanish, decay and crumble. All of the good intentions of making the most archival photography, varnishes that won't oxidize, crack and turn brown, buildings that won't fall down, and words that will remain written somewhere to be able to speak thru an eternity, is just a prolongation of the inevitable end to this ephemeral world. Yet we continue to try.

No one but me sat on my horse Atlas, and no one but me understood how sensitive and willing he was, and how incredible he was to ride. There were no witnesses to see all the hours I spent with him. People who live on this land after me will not know anything about this horse. All of those things are now just synapse firings in my head and a remaining pain in my heart. He was a glorious animal spirit and I have worked thru some of this grief time by writing about him, drawing his portrait over and over, and simply closing my eyes to see him again. I can already feel some of the fog rolling in, clouding my memories of the details. I plan to take the braided lock of his tail my vet sent me, and wrap the top to bind it securely with colored string and hang it in my studio to try to keep his ghost here as long as I can.

This weekend I drew his outline with my knife on a weathered picnic table that was perched on the edge of a nearby lake. It won't take long for this to fade, I know that, just like the last foot prints have already been washed away from my arena and his paddock by the pond. From this terrible refresher course in the pain of loss, I am going to try to keep on remembering just how short this ride can be, and try to live as tho I really understand that tomorrow is not guaranteed to anybody or any thing. One day we are here and then, poof, gone.

I also won't be doing any waiting for shedding season to be done, any more, to take more photos and videos of the wonderful horses who grace my life.

1 comment:

  1. Margaret, My name is Janice Barrett. I do not know you personally but I felt compelled to post a short comment to let you know that I care about your pain in the loss of Atlas. I am a 60 yr. old retired lady who owns a TWH. I recently moved Kody to Pinchona Farm to board him for the spring and summer. I have had him for two years and never a day goes by that I am not fearful of colic. It is everything you described. I am so sorry you are hurting. I am a person that firmly believes that we will see our babies again one day. With the love that you and I have for our horses, I think God would not deprive us of that joy in Heaven. I lost a son five years ago and so many of the emotions you spoke about were also present during my initial time of grief. I hope to meet you one day. Thank you for sharing so eloquently your story of 'life' after the death of a loved one. God bless you!