This is a picture of Polar Bear and I celebrating my fortieth birthday. A few friends and I had arranged to go riding to commemorate this milestone and when I arrived at the paddock, I found a couple of them writing all sorts of happy words and pictures on my horse. They tied ribbons in his mane and drew a bow above his tail. After the ride we took off our shoes, untacked our mounts and went for a swim in the dam. Tired and happy, we then enjoyed a delicious three course breakfast lovingly prepared by my friend, Tas. I cherish this picture; it reminds me that I am loved and appreciated by my friends (anyone who owns a horse can testify to the special magic of friendships formed around a shared love of these four legged companions). It also reminds me of how I felt that day: full of joy and laughter, and a sense of being deeply blessed. Those who know me are aware of all the challenges I have faced with this horse, from physical problems to injuries and behavioural issues. It has not been an easy journey and the discouragement has often felt overwhelming. Had I known all we would face together, I’m not sure I would have taken him on. But I know that he is the horse I was meant to have. Every struggle and challenge has pushed me into new areas of growth and capacity I may otherwise never have dared to attempt. I have experienced friendship and support in profound ways. Polar Bear has been my teacher, and one of the things he has taught me is that I need to let go. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in trying to be the diligent student of life, pouring myself into being the best I can be, focused on reaching the goal. This is true in all areas of my life. I want to be a dedicated mother, a brilliant homemaker, the perfect daughter/sister/friend/Christian. I long to be an accomplished horsewoman, a really good writer. And no matter what I achieve, there’s always another goal in sight, a reminder that what I’ve done is good, but not quite good enough.
I need to play more. Last week, as I was getting their breakfast ready, I heard hooves thundering in the paddock. I opened the shed door and went out to watch the horses careening around, bucking and tossing their heads, running from one end of the field to the other, then in circles around the trees. Their joy and presence to the moment was infectious. I found myself laughing and whooping, caught up in the energy they were creating. So, lately I have been more patient with myself and with my horse. I have let myself remember that this journey is not about getting it right as much as it’s about learning and experiencing joy along the way. And most importantly, about savouring the connection I have with my beloved equine friend.
A few weeks ago, I did an online creative writing course. It was five days of prompts, delivered daily to my inbox. Much of it was designed to access the creativity often hidden and suppressed by the inner critic. The course encouraged me to be free to enter the realm of imagination and possibility, to let go of reason and play with words. It was good to be reminded of all that I love most about writing, and for those few moments each day, I slipped outside of the demands and responsibilities of life. I end this post with a poem I wrote as part of that course. It’s made of fragments taken from a longer piece.
the smell of the sea
cloudlight in the garden
trees after rain
full of memory
swirling up and surfacing
withywind sighing through the windows
bringing its song