Day of the Dog

Once upon a time, a young woman flipped through a picture book with her pet dog. The book was about wolves. With the dog’s head perched delicately on her lap, she remarked:

“Look, pup, that’s you!”

At first, the dog was taken aback. Wolves were strange, savage creatures that roamed cold and barren lands, always playing the villains therein.

The dog thought over this for the rest of the day- for many days, in fact- often skipping meals. In light of his behavior, the dog’s master thought it would be wise to take him to the doctor but never got around to it, which was just as well, seeing as there was nothing physically the matter with him.

Or was there? The dog was, after all, the great-great-great-grandpup of a savage beast. This worried the dog tremendously at first, but eventually he came to like the idea. After all, wolves were a simple bunch. They roamed about as they willed, where they willed and when they willed. This could definitely not be said of the life of a dog.  Excepting the food he stole off the table, breakfast was always at 6 AM, dinner always at 8 PM. There was no lunch, for the master was off at work.

And that was another thing: wolves spent most of their time in packs, but the dog spent most of his time alone. True, he has all comforts a dog could ever want- a roof over his head, food, and a certain degree of companionship- but often, while his master was away, he found himself lonely and bored, because there were only so many places one could venture in an enclosed, suburban landscape. Of course, they did go for walks with some frequency, but those always came with the addition of the leash, which was horribly grating upon his neck and got yanked at moments he did not appreciate.

There was also the matter of discipline. The master was kind enough, and there were many times when her punishments were most called for, like when he defecated on the carpet or shredded his master’s favorite pair of jeans. But there were other times where the punishment was based on a standard beyond him. In these times, the master would gesture wildly and speak harshly, but the dog hadn’t the foggiest idea of what crimes she was accusing him of committing. Thus unable to speak or understand her language, the dog often found himself subject to frequent frustration, even pain, when their two worlds came into unfortunate conflict.

Indeed, when it all came down to it, he had to agree with his master. He was different, inalterably so. That was just way things were.

Once he came to terms with this, the dog had to decide what to do with it. He was, after all, still his master’s pet. True, he could run away, surely. But there was no promise that there would be somewhere for him to run to. Yes, the hills were said to hold their share of coyotes, but he was not a coyote, and had no ambition to be. Coyotes were in-betweeners, preying off suburbia while counter-intuitively purporting to be free. The dog wanted none of that. If he was to free, he wanted to free truly, not just in word.

So days, even years, passed and he found no solution to his problem simply because there was none to be found. No physical one, at least. But as years marched on he found peace in his role. He was a wolf, but he was also a pet, and there was pride in the former and comfort in the latter. Yes, he found no hypocrisy in any of it.

Then, near the end of his days, a queer thing happened: his master tapped into the same rich vein he had found much earlier on (the animals are always the first to know, after all). She began to recognize in herself a foundation call of the wild, a call to be free and in community and separate from the boxes and rules and loneliness her daily routine had subjected her too.

So, one day, she packed her things and moved to the country many miles away with her trusty companion in tow. There, they purchased a small cottage at the end of the wood. It was quieter, slower, and took much time getting used to. But the found themselves gradually and happily adapting to it.

There were places now, many paths to chase and go down. In the evening, they would sit by the fire. She would pet his head. He would lick her face. Things were simple and good.

Eventually, grey came like a sunset upon his golden face. As with anything else, he greeted it warmly. And when the time came to say his goodbyes, he panted once, twice, and then never again. But his last pant- it was so grateful, for he at last seen, tasted, smelled, and touched what it was like to be free.

Author Bio: Aaron D. Ybarra is a writer & founder of Our Kind of Awesome Productions ( He lives in the Asheville area with his wife, Katie, and eagerly awaits the debut of his new musical, “Into the Word.”


Depressives, of all people, know

that you can never truly lift yourself out

of your situation.

You may do so for a time,

but ultimately you will fall back

into the same thoughts

& patterns of behavior,

Not because you are weak,

but because you are fighting against yourself;

and in a civil war, nobody wins.


No, in order to win, to ultimately escape

you must reach out beyond yourself

to nature, to community, and to God


Let them know you exist

and be in fellowship with them.

Feel the warm Sun on your face

and know that you are loved.


Only then will you truly be


Freedom is Found

Freedom is found

in the simple things
a cup of coffee in the morning,
a beer at night
a hug between friends,
a kiss between lovers
freedom is found in sunsets,
and stars,
and waterfalls
cascading down upon our
fragile, strong, and beautiful selves.
Freedom is found in you and me,
in us,
all of us
Freedom is found in love,
true love,
made manifest in this moment
Make it count

Facing Regret

Hey everybody,

How we doing today?

Ever have a situation you wish you would have done better with? I’ve had lots. In fact, I envy anyone who boasts of having none. (I pray they are telling the truth on the matter, rather than trying to live up to a “no regrets” bumper sticker motto they saw once.) Here are two situations that come vividly to mind:

  1. There once was a young woman who used to come into my work dressed rather provocatively. A lot of men at work, customers and employees, used to get all hot and bothered by it. They had their own individual reasons. I personally wasn’t too worked up by it. Sure,  I understand that men are visual creatures, and society has its “modesty” standards. Still, at that time, I didn’t mind it. She wasn’t my daughter or sister or mother or anything other than my friend and customer. I was happy she was happy, and she did in fact seem happy. Some, I suppose, dress this way out of lack of self-confidence. She seemed to do it out of an abundance of confidence. More power to her! But people talk, and say all kinds of things. One day, somebody said something mean to her about what she was wearing. I personally never heard the comment, but she came to me and asked my opinion about her appearance nevertheless. I gave some blanket, nothing answer that tended toward the more conservative side. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had the feeling where you wish you had a least one person on your side in an argument, especially when you have your back up against the wall. Well, in that situation, I didn’t have hers, and I never got the chance to have it. She never returned to my workplace, and I never saw her again. I hope wherever she is, she feels beautiful and valued. If we ever meet, I hope to get the chance to saw as much. Sometimes, we just gotta set our opinions aside to  just be human.
  2. In another situation, a friend of mine’s mother died suddenly (the anniversary of her passing is coming up soon, in fact). She was an awesome woman. Her death came as a shock to us all. The service was held within the week. My friend sent me a text at the last minute, asking to come. I was afraid that if I just bolted from work, I would lose my job. So, I didn’t go. This friend is one of the most accepting people I know, and she took my absence in stride. But, seriously, some friend I am. Sometimes in life you just gotta risk that plush job to do what needs to be done.

I’ve let other people down, often times by been too afraid to do what’s right. If you picked up from the last blog, I tend towards cowardice and conservatism. I acknowledge that fault, accept that mistake. I’ll work on correcting it in the future. In the meantime, I’ll take my lumps, own my failures, and use them as teaching lessons for next time.

If you are down on yourself for your past mistakes, I pray you do not let them get the better of you. As Rafiki from Lion King says…

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 11.57.49 PM

Do not lose hope! Tomorrow will be brighter. Just keep going.