Sunday, July 16, 2006
Little man was invited to a birthday party today. As it often seems to be with small folks, it wasn't your typical house party where Mom bakes a cake and the kids play games in the living room. This one was held at a horse ranch just outside town. The kids saw horses. They rode horses. They ate cake. They swam.
Well, most of them did. Noah took a pass on riding the horses. He's like me in that way: he'd rather observe from the periphery. The horses scared him, enough so that up until this morning, he didn't want to attend the party. Only after I promised him that I know how to "speak horse" did he smile and relent. I guess a little parental humor goes a long way toward allaying a child's fears.
So we watched, carefully and quietly from the back, as the stable attendants brought Ricky out for an equine meet and greet. Noah politely declined to touch, brush, or otherwise approach said horsie. He kept a close eye on me to ensure I was never too far away from him. After 15 or so minutes, he started to ask about the cake.
It was a hot and humid afternoon, and our little guy patiently occupied himself while the other children rode the horses. I was proud of him for being so clear about what he would and would not do, and so well-behaved in the process.
As we slowly walked out of the stable, I caught this rather mournful sight. I lagged slightly back and quickly snapped it before we lost sight of the rest of the group. It struck me then that, perhaps, a horse stable's sole purpose in life wasn't simply to house a bunch of majestic animals. It was also a quiet place that gave people - little and big - the opportunity to pause for a quick moment and appreciate being away from the rush of everyday life. Loneliness, after all, doesn't have to be a sad state of being.
Your turn: What does loneliness look like to you?