Monday, August 12, 2013

Behold a Dark Horse

I watched this video and cried. I was outside after chores, slunk down in the hammock, and I saw it pop up on my Facebook feed on my iphone. It's a performance by Stacy Westfall and her black horse, all done to music without a bridle or saddle. The things she gets that horse to do with barely the slightest signals of leg and body are astounding. As someone who has competed in dressage and ran up mountain trails I understand what is going on and it made me gasp. Then it made me cry. Us humans can't help but see, read, or hear something and then grasp to relate to it. I pray to someday be as talented as Stacy's pinky finger with horses—I have so much to learn—but I already know I will never live without one again. I don't know how the rest of you are getting by without one? They change you. They change everything about you, how you see yourself, how you relate to other challenges and events. A woman with a horse is a strong woman. She's capable and confident and it doesn't matter if she's in a black velvet helmet or a Stetson.

Merlin saved me. More than I realize.

I cried because that ride was amazing, and because I literally just dismounted off my own black horse less then an hour before. It's hard to go a day without riding now, something I try to do once or twice a day. I feel lucky to have a horse outside my door and trails to ride him on that it seems foolish and reckless with my good fortune not to do it as often as possible. I started riding first thing in the morning with some coffee in a thermos shoved into a saddlehorn bag. I used to start my mornings with the news and checking my bank account. This is better. As one of you fine people said on Facebook, "nothing in the news or my bank account will change in that hour". Might as well put myself in a grateful and happy mood while the daylight is young.

I don't know much about Stacy's backstory. I do know that in this video she dedicated that ride to her dad, saying it was his encouragement to try new things that mattered. Think about that? Out of all the things she could have said to a couple thousand people before the ride of her life, it was encouragement that mattered. I can't think of anything more precious. To encourage someone along their path might be the most important thing we can do for each another. Everyday we are given thousands of chances to lighten someone else's load, to create a smile where one didn't exist a second ago. How could we choose anything else?

I hope more than anything that this blog encourages those of you who are on the fence about taking brave steps. I hope you see this broke, confused, imperfect woman on the internet following her dream of a creative life and it makes you feel things are possible. Trust me, that is all I write for. When I get emails that readers finally bought land, or got their first egg, or are making these dramatic life changes I am on fire for them, buoyed and thrilled. That's the whole point of this wild ride, right? To live like you are dying. You ARE dying. I don't care if you're 23 or 89, all of us are on a ticking clock. I know my life seems irresponsible to some of you, that you don't like me or my choices, but I can tell you this much: if my world ended tomorrow I'd know I spent my time making the best life I could for myself. That I did it regardless of consequences, permissions, or pride. I know that I only kissed men I loved and only prayed to gods I believed and I never let fear that they didn't love me back get in the way of either. That matters.

We are defined by the decisions we make.

It's up to you to make the reality you want. It's up to you to not care about what other people's opinions are. It's up to you to leave the marriage, quit the job, run the 5k, or adopt that baby. It's up to you to tell him you love him. It's up to you to say you are sorry. It's up to you to buy the compost, plant the seed, and create the garden between the cracks in the walls. No one is going to do anything for you. No one is going to offer you the opportunities. And if you live a life waiting for perfect moments, the right amount in the bank account, or approval from your family and peers you will never experience the changes you want to see.

The doers make the decisions. You know that right? There's a saying for it, I just heard it today. I was listening to Jack Spirko's podcast and he shared a little sermon about the reality we all live in. It's called The Doacracy. The people who are out there doing the work, they are the ones that get to make the rules. We live in a society that is always asking permission, always. We hand over our authority to the people we were told to listen to, trained to submit to rules. Don't. I have always believed in asking for forgiveness instead of permission, and if you don't believe me ask my mother. So when you hit a wall you need to see it as a challenge, not a deal breaker. You need to understand that your lack of cash, inability to relocate, or responsibilities are only your current circumstances and everything you do in your daily life either changes them or reinforces them. And that bit about encouragement? Sometimes it is up to you to encourage yourself. Sometimes the only one who can see the big picture is the one holding the paintbrushes. Be a doer. Make your life. Ignore those who tell you that you can't. They subscribe to a whole different way of living. It doesn't have to be yours.

This is a short, painful, confusing and heartbreaking life where most of us only have a few decades to really live the way we want to. So get on that horse, call that realtor, or buy that plane ticket. Stop living like you aren't dying. It's going to kill you if you don't.