Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Learning to Fly

Sunday afternoon, when Fiddle Camp was over and everyone who had attended had said their goodbyes and headed down my winding mountain road – I trotted off on Merlin and headed for our beloved trails. I wanted to ride, badly. It had been a few days and after such a wonderful camp I felt so proud and confident and there was nowhere I wanted to be more. It was a celebration on horseflesh. So on that black Fell I cantered across field and forest. We splashed through the creek and galloped up a ridge side. I was on fire, as happy as a woman can be. My farm is what it is. I am what I am. But to send people off into the world that may create new music made me so ridiculously happy I was drunk on the thrill. I laughed. I sang. I talked to Merlin in my broken Gaelic and told him I’d write a song about him, too. I was in heaven, beyond reason, and that is why I did something very stupid next.

We came to a wide trail with some fallen logs. Merlin and I know these logs. He steps over them without any fuss on a regular trail ride. They are only about a foot off the ground, far from a mighty barrier. So I smiled like a wolf, dug my heals as far down as they would go in the stirrups, lifted up into two-point position and asked him to run. Merlin did as I asked, and did it at a full gallop. He was not in a controlled canter. He was moving fast and free. I gave him his head as we reached the log and he curved his muscular neck and lifted those mighty hind legs as we soared. I swear we could have jumped a coffee table.

Time seemed to slow down, I could not believe how high we had gone. He easily cleared the log by an extra two feet and I was aware of this split second of my life when I was flying through the air above four suspended hooves. It froze, slow as bullet time, and was over and spilling back into reality when Merlin hit the ground running like a buck at gunshot.

My landing was not as graceful as his. My stomach plowed into the saddle horn, my legs lost their grip, but I stayed on. I’m sure I felt more like a sack of potatoes than a rider when we landed but it didn’t seem to bother or slow Merlin down at all, like that jump as a booster back of speed and power. He continued to run and I cheered and whooped like an idiot.

Okay, so doing that one time? That was foolish. Making the sober decision to do it again today, that was courage. I admit I was scared to jump him again. Since Sunday I had watched Youtube videos and read some passages in my riding books about proper jump training and realized how lucky I was. You do not start jumping with three feet of air and a full gallop. You start at a trot with a few inches. And that was the plan today. Merlin and I headed back to that jump and with our scrappy education and stubbornness, tried again.

It took a few tries but at a gentler canter we jumped that log half a dozen times. These jumps were not the mighty leap that ended our airborne virginity, these were controlled, softer, and I felt very safe. He did not soar, he bounded, and I felt what a reasonable bit of air felt like. It wasn’t as dramatic but it was on purpose. And having gone back to face it a second time, knowing how rough it could be if I messed up, made me feel proud again. Merlin and I were learning to fly.

I am 32 years old, single, and built like a hobbit. I am not wealthy, or attractive, or particularly savvy. I have more flaws than virtues and have made many mistakes. But when I am on this horse, above the world, I feel a hope and possibility that I have not felt in years. I don’t feel like the girl I am ashamed of for all she lacks, I feel like the woman I can become. People sit in therapist’s offices their whole lives, drink into oblivion, and hurt people over and over looking for that feeling. I have found it in foolishness and luck, attached to a thousand pounds of equine born on another continent gifted to me through blessings I will never truly understand. If that comes across as arrogant, it is not meant to be. It is meant to be confident, which I know straddles that line. But I am beginning to learn the stupidity of overthinking about what other people assume about my heart, have assumed, or will assume. It is known that people who live with one foot in the past, and another in the future are perfectly position to piss all over the present.

I’m choosing to focus on those moments as they are gathered, be it in foolishness or determination. We are what we believe we are, and I am starting to believe in my ability to fly. For that, I thank the fiddlers. For that, I thank the mistakes. And for that, I thank myself for the permission for take off.


Blogger Deltaville Jamie said...

There is nothing more freeing literally, figuratively and mentally than soaring over a fence with on a horse. It doesn't matter if that fence is a 4 foot oxer, a log or a 2 x 4 stretched across 2 5 gallon buckets. Oh how I miss that flight!

August 27, 2014 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Tanya T said...

I flew with you over that log.

August 27, 2014 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

One day you will look back at this time, realize the flaws never mattered, and that you already were the woman you could become. That moment of flight was a visit from the wisdom of the future.

August 27, 2014 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger kbrow said...

"It is known that people who live with one foot in the past, and another in the future are perfectly positioned to piss all over the present."

Best quote ever.

August 27, 2014 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thank you all!

August 27, 2014 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

kbrow: I'm sure that isn't mine, it's an old saying I think?!

August 27, 2014 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Angie Dellinger said...

I don't care whose saying it is; I'm stealing it!! Love it :-)

August 27, 2014 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Weez said...

Learning to fly takes many different shapes and mistakes. But woe betide those who tell a stubborn woman they can't. They must then step back in awe of those of us who do and wonder to themselves, why can't I? In Sisterhood, keep flying Jenna, in what ever arena you choose!

August 27, 2014 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

It's been a year since i wrote it, and i think this post is calling for it.

August 27, 2014 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger aart said...

What a great analogy for life and self awareness.

August 28, 2014 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Nicole Karr said...

How beautiful and what fun!
If you really like jumping you might want to watch for a deal on a saddle without a horn, I think that would be more comfortable for you. Loved reading this. Haven't jumped in 10 years,but remember it vividly!

August 28, 2014 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Sammy Q said...

I agree with @Nicole Karr... I knew what was coming as I was reading that hahaha... Jumping in a western saddle is not fun bc of that pommel. Maybe try the tack that I bought from you (and have yet to pick up... But I'll be there for it at Arrows Rising in October!) Much easier to go 2-point in an English saddle ;)

August 28, 2014 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger janamama said...

WHEN I play on my fiddle in Dooney.
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Mocharabuiee.
I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.
When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;
For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance:
And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With "Here is the fiddler of Dooney!"
And dance like a wave of the sea.

~William Butler Yeats

August 28, 2014 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Oller said...

I found your blog again. I loved reading it before life got so busy. My friend gave me your book, so I am here reading you once more.
I took that ride with you just now. Thank-you. I`m going to get chicks in the spring & start over from there. You have inspired me, & I feel alive again ,thank you, Phyllis in Pa

August 28, 2014 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

A delightful ride, and you stayed on over the log. A big accomplishment for you and Merlin. I would recommend that you do more practice jumps on every ride. Just small objects to start with and work your way up. I am so happy that you are doing so well with Merlin! Take care and love your life.

August 28, 2014 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger k heston said...

Lawds how I love reading your blog posts. I love your freedom. I love your hardiness. I love your voice in writing.

And don't you worry about being single. I'm 36, married, a mother to a two-year-old (and on fertility drugs to try for more) and I yearn for NOTHING MORE than a small family farm. I've no idea if it'll happen. We're trying. But life is hard and expensive, and we have lots of goals with little cash to accomplish them.

You give me hope. You give me courage to try. And you impress me with you many self-taught and recently-learned talents.


August 30, 2014 at 11:05 PM  

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