When my friend called me to come visit her down the coast for the day, my first intention was to say no. I had an inventory of obligations to fulfill and had intended to complete them that day. So, I found myself a bit surprised when an hour later, I was driving down the freeway, on my way to join her. I'll only stay for a few hours, I repeatedly told myself, anxious that I had left all my responsibilities behind.
When I drove through the gates of the neighborhood, I felt an immediate shift in my mood. All the fret I had been feeling softened into serenity. It was an equestrian neighborhood, laden with rolling green hills and miles of natural trails, all leading to ocean views. I stopped my car, took in a breath, and for the first time all week, I was calm.
Minutes after I pulled into the driveway, my friend took me out on the trails. We hiked through avacado groves and blackberry bushes, inhaling the sweet scented air. I exposed my feelings about all the issues that had been weighing on my mind, releasing the negativity I had been digesting into the temperate air. By the time we came back to the house, I was relaxed, and I was greeted with a glass of chardonnay. I sat at the table, took a sip of the wine and surrendered.
Instead of going home, I stayed the night. When I awoke the next morning, my friend and her boyfriend had a surprise. They were taking me horseback riding. They knew the precise prescription to navigate me back onto my path, the path I had temporarily strayed from after being overwhelmed by tension and anxiety.
When I had first realized my marriage was ending, I had turned to horses to heal. Riding had always been a passion of mine, but after having kids, I rarely had the time. After asking my husband for a divorce, I made it. I had spent endless hours at the equestrian center; just being near these majestic animals, petting their downy hair, smelling the scent of fresh hay on their breath blessed me with tranquility. I eventually leased my own horse and for the first time, I truly fell in love with an animal. Whiskey became my salvation, salvaging me from the ruins I felt my life had become, but sadly our relationship didn't last. After eighteen months, Whiskey died from colic.
I didn't ride for a few months, but as passion tends to do, it leads one back to their state of grace and happiness, and I found myself volunteering at a healing ranch. I thought I was there to help out with the kids' classes and the therapy, when in fact, I was the one who was there to heal. Through this experience I no longer viewed animals as beasts to be ridden. I viewed them as healers.
Yesterday, I found myself a little nervous, getting on a horse again after not having ridden for several months. I know the power and unpredictability behind these gentle animals, so my guard is always high when meeting a new horse. And, for the first time in years, I was riding western.
We maneuvered through the same wavy trails we had hiked the day before. The world looked different on the back of a horse; more vivid, more expansive, more lovely. We saw magnificent vistas; the entire Queens Necklace that outlines the Santa Monica Bay all the way north to Malibu. In the distance was Catalina Island, so close, it looked like it was a swim's distance away. If I turned around, I could see downtown LA, the sunlight reflecting off the windows of the skyscrapers, turning them a florescent orange.
Even though I live an hour away, I could see the peak of the Palisades; even the mountain I call home. Seeing the city, my home, my world from this vantage point made me realize how insignificent my problems really were. I was suddenly an omniscient narrator, looking down at my life below, realizing that I am the creator of my prose, my purpose, my life. One of the biggest cities in the world became a miniature model, while I became a signifigant being. And then, we started to gallop.
There is no greater freedom, no greater rush for me than riding full speed on a thousand pound animal. The wind brushing past my face, ducking under tree branches, holding my breath as the world blurs by and I hang on for my life with nothing but my thighs. My heart beating badly, the soreness on my face after being stung by the points of the leaves, even the shaking of my thighs reminded me how alive I am, how lucky.
Ironically, after this momentous moment, I had to rush back hom to meet with my new divorce attorney. I sat across from her; she - completely riled and ready to fight. Me- composed and calm. My ride just before this meeting enabled me to relay the problems of my divorce without tainting them with anger or hurt. It was the most productive attorney/ client meeting I have ever experienced. I wasn't worried, I wasn't filled with angst. I was able to see how insignifigant this next phase of fighting is going to be in relation to the rest of my life.
This past Sunday, I realized the importance of letting go. By doing this, I know in my heart that everything is going to be okay. Yes, I may get stung, and yes, I my legs may be shakey at times. But at the end of this ride we call life, I will be able to look down at the miniature world below, and realize that the world I see is one based off of the model I created, one that is filled with sunlit windows and exquisite views and all things that make me happy.