There are few in this world that can be happy through anything, and that can feel joy no matter what is happening in their lives. It is much too easy to fall into an unseen hole of depression, into a cruel void of sadness. There has always been one candle in the dark for me, however. My late friend Harley struggled through a crippling illness for many months. Despite this, he would run with me every day, and refused to let anything rain on his parade. He hid it well, and I never knew that he was sick. Some days he was slower than others, but I always attributed it to his being tired. Without fail, I could wake up every morning and see Harley, eyes shining and jumping up and down, waiting for his daily run. Harley has since then passed, and I have yet to meet anyone that rivals his perseverance and sheer joy in life. Did I mention that Harley was a bontebok?
Bonteboks are a type of antelope, and Harley was one of three at Sedgwick County Zoo. Even on his worst days, he never failed to race. His big brown eyes could melt anyone, and I’ve yet to find someone that I feel as comfortable with as I did with Harley. Because of him, I believe that four legs are better than two.
Humans fall prey to their emotions on a regular basis. None of us are perfect, and we’re often self-centered. It’s a fact of life. When we have problems, we require that every other person on earth open up their ears and listen. Harley was never like that, though some animals are. Harley just wanted to play. He put his pain away, and was determined to beat me across that finish line every single morning. The last time that I saw my friend, he was running after the cart that I was driving away on. He never lost his joy of the run, and he never let his pain slow him down. This ability of his to move on through any problem has inspired me more than anyone else in my life. I believe in Harley, and everything that he taught me while I was privileged enough to know him. For everything that he struggled through, I commend him, and for everything that his perseverance showed me, I thank him.
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