Paul's good friend Ariel Fintzi and the Blue Star dog Frida today.
Maria and I went to Blue Star Equiculture today to remember Paul Moshimer, to laugh and cry and wonder at his life and death, to be with Pamela and the very wonderful and passionately dedicated young people who surrounded them both and are the heart of the extraordinary experiment that is Blue Star.
A dream that Paul and Pamela shared and created together.
We spent the day remembering Paul, sitting by the water that he loved, visiting the horses that were his life, putting rose petals and flowers on the tree where he died.
Pamela and I talked for a long time today about how to deal with the death of Paul, and Pamela, as she and Paul always did, opted for the truth. They were both utterly without guile or deceit, their lives and work was and is open and true. I agreed to tell the story, I told her it is right to be open, I am honored that she trusts me with it.
The truth is this: Paul took his own life two days ago, he was found early in the morning hanging from a tree that sits in the heart of the farm, and is used to tie the big and beautiful draft horses. Some people say that suicide is a form of cowardice, that suicide is wrong and immoral, but I do not judge Paul in that way, and neither did anyone at the farm today. I believe that there is nothing more sacred to every man or woman in the world than to own their life.
As a fire chief and first responder in Maine, he risked his life again and again, he saved person after person, he covered himself in honor and glory. He had a dark and soul-searching time after his career ended in 2009 when he was charged and convicted with aggravated assault after an argument, he spent a month in a county jail in Maine. Paul was shattered by that experience, he talked of it many times to me, he felt great shame over it. I think he expected me to walk away from him in shock and horror when he told me about it, but I laughed. I have done much worse, I told him. This man, I thought, does not know how good he is.
The prophets say the smallest part of life is the trouble that confronts us, the biggest part is the way we handle our troubles.
Paul handles his troubles well, but was afraid to defend the farm against the continuing and very cruel assaults of the people who believe it is wrong for working horses to work, he feared they would use his arrest against the farm. I told him it was one very human mistake, for which he took responsibility, it was not an act of evil. I tried to persuade him to shed that shame, as did Pamela and others, but I failed. I wish he had believed in forgiveness, he surely offered it to others.
I am grateful to talk about this, to shed this specter here, to bring it out into the open for him. Paul, you have nothing to fear now, you are beyond hurt and judgment, dancing in the safe arms of the angels.
Paul Moshimer became a seeker after his troubles, he rode his motorcyle everywhere, searched for God, he examined his life, met Pamela Rickenbach, fell in love with her, with the dream of Blue-Star, with the horses and their spirits, and was reborn. He said many times that meeting Pamela saved his life. The farm became his new home. He loved every day of it, took to the horses as if he had been doing it all of his life, shared every equine ache and pain and heartbreak.
His dear friend Ariel Fintzi, a beloved and gentle New York Carriage Driver, came to Blue Star Friday, stayed with Pamela, told all of us the beautiful story of the mystical and very beautiful carriage ride he gave them in New York's Central Park to celebrate their wedding just a few months ago. I thought my heart would break as Ariel told that sweet story, the wind whistled through the pine trees, the stream rushed past us, Paul's presence very much felt. I did a lot of hugging for me, so did Paul's other friends. Ariel. Doug Anderson, we were so glad to see one another, we threw ourselves into one another's arms like long lost brothers.
We stood and sat by the tree, went to the stream that Paul loved. I read my poem "Golden Fields
." I wrote it the night before he died, but it seems I had him in mind.
We tried to comfort the young people who found him, the others who missed him, stunned and struggling to under it, we offered our wisdom and tips, the age-old dance of the old dispensing their knowledge to the young. I felt old doing it. I doubt that they needed it.
They listened graciously. We celebrated Paul all day, threw sticks in the water for his dog, sat by the fire burning for four days for him. His was a very human life, and I am not sure there can be a greater testament than that. It was not one thing, it was many things, almost all of them good and rich and brave and beautiful.
His life spoke of what it means to be a human being, good and bad, nothing more, nothing less.
I do know he saw too many hard things in his life as a fireman and rescuer, he was an extraordinarily sensitive man. I think I am beginning to comprehend it.
He was in great physical pain in recent months in his legs and hips, he had to turn over many of the physical tasks and chores of the farm to others, something he very much hated to do. I think it brought up more shame in him in a way, a hard thing for such a physical and active man. I think that is enough information, the rest is up to Pamela to keep and consider.
The day before he died, Paul send me a link to a You Tube video with Keith Richards, "Days Of Wonder
." If features different versions and interpretations of Bob Marley's famous song "Get Up, Stand Up." I wondered why he might have sent me this the day before he took his own life. Today, Pamela took me aside, made me sit down at Paul's computer and watch every word of the video. Pay attention to it, she said, take it seriously, don't blow it off.
Paul played this over and over again, said Pamela, and he said this was Jon Katz's song. It chewed up my heart to hear this and see this. I don't know what to say, without words for once. Maria called me tonight and asked me how I was. I said I was broken, I guess. It is not my tragedy to own, it just hurts in the way life sometimes does. It made me feel so lucky about my life, about Maria and my work. About having gotten to the stage in life where I could have a friend like Paul. I will try to live up to the faith he had in me.
Suicide is a very private and individual thing, it is both mysterious and mystical and, of course, controversial to some. The truth is that I will never really know why Paul, a man who loved so much in his life, went to the tree a few days ago in the middle of the night and ended his life. Like everyone else, I will accept it and move on. The people who found him said he looked peaceful, free of pain. Maria stayed behind, to spend the weekend helping Pamela and caring for the horses. I will go back tomorrow, after my short story class at Hubbard Hall.
It his business, and Pamela's business. It was brave of her, in all of her pain, to want to share this very hard thing. And she is brave, and dedicated and strong. She says she will mourn Paul and sit by his fire for four days and after that, she said, mourning is selfish. She believes strongly in the horses, in Blue Star
, and means to see their wonderful farm grow and thrive.
Every human being leaves a legacy behind, it is too soon to know Paul's. I think he and Pamela have created something quite extraordinary at Blue Star, a way of looking at people and animals, and treating both with dignity and respect. The place oozes love and commitment and promise. I think it is the answer, the Third Way, the future for animals, for people, for Mother Earth. That is a shining light unto the world, they both believed that the horses are calling us heal the world and to learn to live in harmony, while there is still time.
Bless you Paul, you have done a sacred thing, we will keep your fire burning.
If you wish to honor the memory of this extraordinary person, you can support Blue Star Equiculture
in several ways and honor Paul's memory by going here
. This would be a good time to reach inside of yourself, they could use the help.