My parents live out in the country. Not like on a farm or anything. Actually, their house is in a neighborhood, but it’s pretty far from everything – especially Sonic. To me, this constitutes living in the country. I’m not sure I could live so far from Sonic. Life without Watermelon Cream Slushes is just surviving, really.
We usually drive out there on Sundays, to my parent’s house in the country. We pass lots of country things along the way. Things like cows, and fences, and horses running in grassy areas. There are some barns too, the further you get from “town”. Within a couple of minutes of their house, there’s this small neighborhood. It’s kind of out of place in the country, and if you saw it you would probably agree. It’s full of small white houses, built close together and close to the road. There’s a small hotel too, which I’m pretty sure is haunted. I try not to look in that direction at night.
The other day as we drove through this out-of-place, arguably haunted neighborhood, I noticed something. In the backyard of a small, white house just past the 4-way stop stood a horse. And when I say “backyard” I don’t mean “large horse field”. This patch of grass was the size of my own backyard, and I live in the city – close to Sonic. The horse stared at me as I drove by, silently calling for help with its giant horse eyes. It looked trapped and bored, like the people I pass in traffic on the way to work.
For the first time in my life, I felt bad for a horse. If I’m being honest, on most days I’m pretty jealous of horses. Their lives consist mostly of frolicking in open fields, which sounds fantastic. And the lucky ones get to tote around tiny, aggressive men who always seem to be in a hurry. But I wasn’t envious of the horse life on this day. He should be running around in a field somewhere, I thought. He should be frolicking and eating apples and doing all the other things that horses to do in groups. He certainly shouldn’t be all alone in a backyard that a claustrophobic Yorkie would bark at.
I wanted to open the gate for him, I wanted to let him out. But I didn’t. For two reasons mainly: 1. Horse-knapping is not something I wanted on my criminal record 2. I was much more comfortable sitting in my car. But he was so out of place. He was where he didn’t belong and it showed. Because the thing is, horses aren’t made for backyards, horses are made to run.
I think a lot of us are in places we don’t belong, giving our lives to things we weren’t made for. And it shows. It shows on our faces, and in our giant human eyes. It shows in our boredom and in our apathy. It shows in traffic on the way to work. We were made to run but we’ve resigned our lives over to building fences for ourselves, content to watch the cars pass by.
But the difference between us and that horse is
skin that we have a choice. We can open the gate, even climb over it if we really want to. It’s up to us.
It’s easy to feel trapped. It’s easy to feel like there’s no way we could change. There’s no way we can change our scenery, and we don’t deserve freedom and bigger fields any way. But the truth is, we weren’t meant to be caged. The fenced-in area we’ve spent our lives constructing isn’t real life. Life begins on the other side of the gate. We were made to run.