Heaven

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I’m not sure that heaven exists. But sometimes I imagine what would be like if it . In the book by Mitch Albourn, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, each person lives forever in a memory or experience that brought him or her peace in life. If heaven is anything like Albourn’s model, I already know where my heaven is going to be: 1152 Haverstraw Road, Suffern New York. This is the address of Ramapo Equestrian Center. More specifically, my heaven will be the trail that runs around the back of the barn along the stream. I will be riding my favorite horse, Dutch, cooling down like I have done so many times after a good ride. Under the stretching blue sky, with a gentle breeze playing in my hair, I will walk round and round, scratching Dutch’s shoulder, gazing up at the beautiful tree covered mountains that crouch protectively over the valley.
This is where my mind slows down, at 1152 Haverstraw Road in Suffern New York. On the weekends, I come here to breathe. Monday through Thursday, my life is a blur, a nonstop marathon of incomprehensible math problems, rushing bodies in the hallway, tests, quizzes, alarm clocks, responsibilities, SAT’s, ACTs, and more afterschool activities than I can count on one hand. I would kill to get a many hours of sleep per night as I have clubs on my resumé. But if my life is the Daytona 500, the cars grind to a halt and the crowds disperse on Friday, when I drive up to the barn. The roaring engines in my mind shut off and for a brief moment, it is quiet in my head. Most people find peace lying on beaches for hours or relaxing on the couch, but the stiller my body is, the faster my thoughts race. Horseback riding is as much a mental game as it is physical, and concentrating on my body position and my horse’s movements absorbs my full attention unlike anything else; due dates, trigonometry, and gnawing anxieties gallop away.
Tightly packaged in the suburbs, I never really experienced the outdoors until I started riding. I’ve always felt an emptiness that should have been filled with fresh air. If my childhood was largely nature-deficient, horseback riding has been my multivitamin. Stress can be a poison that eats you up, but the blue sky, the air, the mountains, and the sun-drenched grasses at 1152 Haverstraw Road are the perfect antidote. While I can’t be sure where I’ll go when I die, I do know that heaven exists. Maybe it’s not in the sky, maybe it’s not in another dimension, but heaven exists at 1152 Haverstraw Road.





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