Fostering the Wild

There are times in life when our beliefs rear up against us to challenge our commitment to them. We spend most of our time in life thinking that what we believe is some tame creature under our control, but the vast majority of our beliefs, or even our operating assumptions about life, have immense repercussions for our actions and reactions to things that could easily happen any day, at any time, especially as we just go with their flow, never taking the reins to truly understand our thoughts and feelings and the way they intertwine. When you take the reins of a wild thing, it tends to buck, and I am the first to espouse that Love is many things, but it is never tamed by human hands.

I’ve been bucked by thoughts and ideas and choices I’ve made concerning love far more than I’ve ever enjoyed the ride, at least in terms of looking back on the ride as a whole. It has had ups and downs to be sure, but when you survey your surroundings and see nothing but canyon walls stacked high on either side you can safely posit that the trek has ultimately been a descent. Perhaps that is why some people seem to know me for my depth; I’ve spent a lot of time in shadows, caves, and flooded shallows with torrent rivers of frightening depth as I’ve ridden along, clinging to the mane of this stubborn wild beast of love, only to find myself again in the dirt, tending to some new sprain or bruise, compounded upon all the older hurts, yet still trying to mount (again) this monster of belief, that seems intent on tenderizing me for slaughter before this road can even reach its deepest end.

When I spur the thought, he stands his ground. When I pull back, he charges on. When I bear down for my dear life because he goes running through the night, and there are obstacles that I can’t see rushing blindly past that reach for me to scratch and scrape, and sure I’m free, at least for a moment and I let go and be, just in time to get clotheslined by two limbs combined that my mass times my velocity could not foresee: “red rover, red rover,” someone calls me over, and I, still, the smallest of the bunch. My companion thought carries on through, unfazed by my sudden crude alight-ment to the earth, seemingly gone, now turning back, sauntering over, licking new wounds, whether to satisfy my grievance, or satiate his thirst, and what am I supposed to do, but climb back atop this creature’s back and await the next attack — another choice, with consequence — and no one even called my name.

Couples ride in carriage cars, barely heeding life beyond their doors, where wind and rain and elements leave beast and rider both well-spent to catch what little rest they may before they start another day, hungry, tired, gone astray, hoping to get back on track today, tomorrow, anytime, before one or other concedes to death, that invisible spectre chasing lives chasing life, seeking love, husband, wife, but not with shortcuts or parlour tricks, not with gilded distractions of gold and glitz, but the simple thought that choice is key, and one will want to ride this beast with me; not to tame what cannot be, but just to be, together, to be with me.

Nevertheless, abrupt unforeseen landings hurt, especially when one is ill-prepared for flight, like when the ground beneath your feet just evaporates, and with this monster you fall into dire straights. In the air, a choice you make: hold on tight, twist and turn and cling to the lessons you have learned to bear the brunt of the coming pain and spare the monster with his wild mane, who has carried you through far further than you ever could have gone without, and so if he must crush your meagre frame, at least he may wander freely yet, and find someone — not who will tame, but appreciate, move more in tune to this lithe writhing life, and recognize pitfalls from wife, to stop at bride, and not close his eyes, to make room for one to share his ride — but for me this time it surely seems the end of this unmanaged dream, falling fast with beast above, this untameable beast of love. Then a moment of perceived lucidity: the impact of landing alone is enough, who wants to be crushed by this ungrateful hulk, pulverized under its impressive bulk? You push, punch, and kick to no real end; you are falling in the same trajectory, friend. This cycle persists, who knows how long, your sense of beginnings and endings have gone, only tumultuous turns remain, to love to fall, attract repel, surely this is living hell, but then a change of circumstance: the ground looms fast-approaching hence. Resigned to the task of dying with grace, you peer once more into the beast’s haggard face to realize he is looking at you, with knowing eyes peering into your soul as you plunge into this seemingly bottomless hole, plumbing your depths with an insatiable gaze, until suddenly, everything has gone away.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Paralysis sucks, especially blind. Love nuzzles in, nestles close, his muzzle moist, perhaps my blood, the breath he breathes is warm and sweet, teeth strong and sharp, my scruff his meat. Nope, not yet. He hoists instead, makes his own bleeding back my water bed. And just like that, the choice you choose, one day goes and carries you when you cannot bear a choice to make, when every truth seems false or fake; that belief you gave so much for, gives to you so much more. Plodding down some sloping floor, you pray for some miraculous door that will open wide, receive you in, and elevate you both to rest, within your home, some place made far away from sin, and pain, and silly games that people play with hearts and lives that are led astray by values that will sink in floods, rot with time, and stain in blood, whereas I only have this thought of love, and he has me, broken as we both may be, bound nonetheless eternally by the only choice that is truly free.

The hardest thing about recognizing love as a choice is making a choice to begin with. However, a close second is respecting the choices others make, especially when we think them wrong.

- Foster

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