the unexpected joy of being lost for so long is feeling the fire of life again. it’s so hard, almost unbearably hot. but it’s so good.

there are patterns in every life. day and night. work and leisure. hunger and satiation. seasons and generations. in a country life, the patterns are indelible and dangerous to ignore. successfully navigating the deadly cadence of days and seasons requires diligence and passion.

my passion has been slipping, ebbing, for a long time and, with it, my diligence. there are things that must be done and i do them, seemingly simply because they must be done. and then there are things that should be done. i procrastinate. i equivocate. i justify their neglect because they’re not essential. slowly over the years, i reduced myself to bare minimums and never really noticed it was happening. after a while, my mind allowed my eyes to gloss over unfinished shoulds and i no longer really saw the mountains of minor failures. when i couldn’t see the tasks anymore, i stopped reminding myself to do them. every failure, whether acknowledged or not, quietly ate away at me. one bite at a time, i was diminished, but unwilling to stop and examine the wounds. not seeing them, i could believe they weren’t there.

as i awaken, slowly, painfully, from my long emotional dormancy and rediscover happiness and love and direction and the good kind of pride, i get so full of feelings that i can’t contain them all. i tremble. i surge. i overflow.

last night, i stopped to say hello to my spotted gelding as he was finishing his dinner. he doesn’t always love a hello. he’s a grumpy old man and he has some real moods. he didn’t seem particularly snappish this evening, so i reached out with one hand and gave him a good scratch all down the front of his neck with the tips of my fingers, raising the loose hairs of his remaining winter coat and the soft, greasy grey powder of horse dander. he sighed and stood quietly, willingly, so i raised my other hand and went to work. from throat to chest, chest to throat, throat to chest, i firmly, gently clawed every inch of his neck, leaning in close to put the weight of my body behind my fingertips, getting deeper than fur and skin and right into his muscle. i was in a little bit of a trance; it was more of a meditation than a massage. and as i pressed my forehead against his throat to get a better angle, he bent his head down and, so tenderly, pressed his fuzzy , sturdy upper lip against the back of my neck and gave me a gentle little caress in return. a kiss. a gratitude.

i opened my mouth to laugh at the sweetness of his gesture and what bubbled up instead was a wracking sob of pure, plain happiness that was too capacious, too agonizingly perfect for laughter. and it didn’t surprise me, because it keeps happening. i don’t hate it at all. being full up over the top with bliss is delicious, euphoric, amazingly confusing.

the gelding tolerated my emotional spill, his soft lips still pressed gently against my nape, comforting me as i leaned against him, shaking and grinning and weeping. i remembered, in my heart rather than my head, why i’m out there in all weather hauling hay and water, laying fence, scrubbing tanks, washing blankets: love. i’d forgotten what it was all really for. just as i’d forgotten what i am really for.

happily, there’s no guilt or shame in remembering warmth and sweet intensity because the recollections are all exquisite and self-affirming. this is who i am. this is what i’m for. i don’t need to be perfect, but i do need to be true. in purpose and pleasure, i am rediscovering my own potential and capacity for passion and find them both abundant again. it feels like a revelation, like rebirth. which makes me so happy, i could just cry.

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