25 June, 2014

Still Looking for Carl Raswan

"The Bedouin explained to me that Ishmael had attained that sense of Oneness of life, which does not any longer separate man's feelings of love from animals. He had learned the mystery how to project himself into the soul of the creature and how to become One with the mare and her life energy. He grew in consciousness of the love that binds all living things to each other and to their Creator."-Carl Raswan from his article in Western Horseman, The Head of the Arabian
All my life, I feel like I have been on a quest,
to find a particular horse, a special horse, a horse so elusive and yet,
I know him...
I have come really close. It's like having a word on the tip of your tongue but you can't say it. The word flashes for a fraction of a second in your mind and still... 
you can't say it. 
I can see this horse. Like the forgotten word, he's in my mind. I can see him. I can hear him. I can even feel the silkiness of his fine coat, as my hand glides over his smooth body and yet, I find it difficult to use just the right word to identify him, to define him, to say just the right words that will give flesh and bone to an imagined dream, so that everyone can see how magnificent this horse is too. I agonized over my frustration until, I read Raswan's books. Carl Raswan knew a horse like this too. His horse was ancient and Greek. His words, his description, strike a chord of similarity for my struggle with a similar horse. The elusive horse he saw in his mind, overflowing with a special quality, "that extra something" which led him out of his comfort zone into  the desert to look for him.
"Some day I must know these people of the desert. I must find the beautiful ancestral horse of the frieze on the Parthenon. But my quest may be for a mythical horse which no longer exists."-Carl Raswan from his book, Drinkers of the Wind
Carl Raswan...It seems like in these modern times, almost everyone has an opinion of a man who is often misunderstood and one of the leading characters in the history of the Arabian Horse.  The perspective of "hindsight" can be cruel, harsh and indifferent. We fail to fully understand the sacrifices that people have made. We don't savor the hardship nor the frustrations that authors like Raswan experienced in searching, discovering, writing and sharing the information we decide to use or not use today. Much of what is said about Raswan concerns the many words that he used to describe the Arabian horse.  Raswan is criticized because in his later writings, he contradicts his earlier work. Some people feel that his words glorified only the horses owned by his financial supporters. In the perspective of "hindsight", we lose tolerance, compassion and respect. It is deep within the criticism that I found Raswan and the passion he had for the Arabian horse. I understand what he was trying to say. I have difficulty finding the perfect words to describe the classic horse that I also yearn for deeply, like he did. What is an authentic Arabian horse? Do you know the answer? Raswan spent his whole life trying to answer that question.  Not only do I find it challenging to use the right words to describe my perfect horse; my perfect horse is constantly evolving and changing. I will contradict what I told you today, with what I will say tomorrow. I may have described my ideal horse very differently yesterday, thinking that my ideal horse existed only in the pastures of Ansata Arabian Stud but I evolved, and I  learned painfully, that the world of the classic Arabian horse was much bigger than Ansata.  I developed a passion for other paddocks and other pastures,where equally beautiful and classic horses ran freely. And here I am
having lived a lifetime of incredible horse experiences and not any closer to identifying THAT HORSE. Such is the way with a mind that is open and free, with words and feelings, passion and spirit...they never remain the same because as a person, I am not the same. I am different today, as I will be one month, six months, one year from now. Why do we have difficulty accepting the same for Carl Raswan? Was he any different from you or me?  

So, once again, I set out on a journey to find Carl Raswan. As elusive as the ideal Arabian horse is to find; it is just as challenging to embrace Carl Raswan, his heart, his spirit, his passion and understand the journey that he spent a lifetime living.
"But there was something about this emaciated little chestnut stallion that fascinated me, though he was not much to look at and certainly had not been groomed for ages past. He had four white feet, and a white star on his forehead--a head bold and angular as jagged rock. And his enormous eyes were like those of a gazelle." -Carl Raswan, from his book, Drinkers of the Wind
Raswan was unique, a special man, thorns and all, whom you learn to treasure. Jim Carrey the actor and comedian, in the commencement speech he delivered to Maharishi University of Management said, 
"you can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future but all there will ever be, is what's happening here and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear." 
I have to be honest that initially, I didn't like the man, for maybe, many of the reasons that people have criticized him. And there are still moments when I am not really sure how I feel about him. But Raswan lived his moments, with the information that was available to him....
We criticize Raswan's philosophy, how many moments separated from when he lived, forgetting that we have been blessed with more information about the Arabian horse than the information available in Raswan's day. So what's important about Raswan, you ask? I'll tell you. It's the gradual awakening to the theme of Raswan's message that really got me. He deeply loved the Arabian horse. And that's what forced me over the great divide of accepting Raswan...LOVE. Carl Raswan lived the moments of his whole life, choosing love, that is, love for the Arabian horse. His driving force, his mission,  was to open the minds of people, so that they can love the Arabian horse, as he did. Somehow, in the love that he had for the horse, he discovered that he was not separate from the horse; he was
one with the horse.
I believe that's where you will  find Raswan, the very human and fragile Raswan, who made mistakes, frustrated and angered people, changed his mind over and over and yet, always chose love over fear in any decision he made. He knew the authentic Arabian horse personally and...he really loved the Arabian horse.

EnJOY the happy summer,


JoeF said...

I understand your quest Ralph. I think to get closer to finding Carl Raswan you must first start by looking in the mirror. I think you share with Raswan a long life of passion for the Arabian horse that was first ignited by the horse itself. In our fueled curiosity we discover people like Carl Raswan whose writings became a catalyst for our own journeys.

Having seen some of Raswan's private correspondence I came to realize that it is not so much about the messenger as it is about the message. His passion for the Arabian horse included its message, its gift to mankind, and it seems that is what he most wanted people to remember in their journey. So he, like you and me, and many others have been given journeys created by the Arabian horse and I think ultimately the one messenger to celebrate is the horse itself. And like Carl Raswan, you have done a magnificent job of it.

kar120c said...

Beautifully said, Joe! You and Ralph are the torch carriers for the Arabian breed along with so many others and you all have kept the flame alive and well.

Ann Rienks said...

Well put Ralph! So True, you hit the nail on the head. "In that moment" and to recall the time frame within which he lived. The hardships he and the horses endured. When I started into breeding Straight Egyptian Arabians is when I first heard of Raswan. I have enjoyed and been totally drawn in by his work.