What if? What if this is the moment across which, when I pass, each subsequent moment will be measured, clocked, pointed to as the one that marked the path leading to that final embodied breath? What if? Every moment should be then heightened, exalted somehow. Already, I asked myself, if this is the marker, then which choices will I make – about trips abroad, the stories I will write, the company I will keep? I smiled a happy little smile, knowing that I will die. Because if I live as if I will die, then I will, in fact, live. Exuberantly.

My friend, Sue tucks her long legs under her and holds out her hands, her head tilted to the side so that a sliver of hair escapes from behind her ear, and gives me this: when we write, it is as if we are riding bareback on a massive and powerful creature, without reins. I close my eyes, picturing this – a wild and open field heading straight for the woods. We risk everything in our trust of this ride. We can indicate to the horse the direction we’d like to go. We can do this because we have a certain skill, a certain ability to communicate, but if we trust the horse and can ride it through, even if it veers, even if it descends, when we let it run, our work has the potential to be magic, to take us to places our conscious mind might never venture. We can’t control it, this magic steed, but we always have the option of jumping off and running for home.

What do I mean by control? Control is the illusion of will; that will can bring mystery, or more importantly, keep us safe. Ha! Safe. What do I mean, then, by safe? Safe is that place where we hide, where we kneel to mix sand with water and straw so that we can build a wall against what may or will hurt us, harm us, wound us or teach us. I had two and a half walls constructed until just a short while ago. It wasn’t anything he did, precisely, that sunk those walls. Or said, even. I tend to think it’s the other, when it’s actually me, that creates the discord, the distance, the wrong-making. And when the sand drifted back into the lake water and straw lay scattered across my bed, I wept.

Sometimes an image appears, of me on my knees sobbing so hard all my muscles run with tears and my bones wring out their marrow. Because everything is so fragile so fleeting so finite. Because there is a place in everyone that is cruel. And a place that is kind. It is said, that the one you feed is the one that wins. And because when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, the pain and the bliss are almost tolerable.

Love hurts. It cracks you open and exposes every little ache and whine and plea and sweetness. But it also dissolves isolation. It allows us to be seen and heard and loved anyway. We might ask, “Can I trust you with my heart?” But the real question may be, “Can I bear the weight of your heart?”

The gift of the horse analogy can be wrapped for writing, for loving and for living.

So, what if? What if I lean forward and whisper in the horse’s ear which way I think I’d like to go, and then just ride?