Grit Blogs > Red Pine Mountain

Come To The Edge

A Red Pine Mountain LogoAnother winter post.  If you were to ask me why, I would say that this winter was a defining moment in my life in many ways and before I say goodbye to the season and embrace spring which has finally arrived in Vermont, I'd like to share one more piece of writing.  The tag line of my blog is "Live Your Dreams, Share Your Hearts," but it's not always as simple as it sounds.

Come To The Edge 

Lately, my life has been absorbed by a writing class and the 5,000-word short story I had to produce. Engulfed by my work, I’ve paid scant attention to changes around me.

The winter weather at my Vermont home turned bitterly cold and snowy as I sat day after day at the computer birthing a character, Agnes, dear to my heart. She is flawed, but it is her flaws that make her so precious to me. And, as I wrote her story, that of a battered woman of my age (50s), who isn’t able to see any choices beyond life with an abusive man, my life in many ways started to mirror hers. I became fearful and timid and afraid. My anxiety peaked when I finished the story and submitted it for peer review and awaited their comments. Am I a writer? Am I talented enough to have what it takes? What do others think of my writing? As I awaited validation or censure, I became tense and joyless.

And while I was working on Agnes' story, I decided to start riding my young Morgan mare, Khrysta, who had sat idle since the fall. I assumed we would pick up right where we left off, but I was wrong.

At first, Khrysta seemed excited to be out in the snow packed woods. But one day, as we were out on the trails, a small animal ran under her hooves. She reared in the air, headed home to the security of her barn, and became afraid and unwilling to extend herself beyond her immediate surroundings. I could visit her, groom her and tack her, but try as I  might, I could not budge her from the sanctuary of her barn. Every nerve in her body quivered with fear as I attempted to urge her forward.

I decided not to push her. I was busy writing and had no time for her antics. I was more angry than sympathetic and quite willing to play the blame game. But at the moment, it didn’t matter. I was busy elsewhere.

Yesterday, I decided enough was enough. The story was done, the comments will be what they will be and it’s time for me to part ways with my heroine, Agnes. I headed to the barn and found Khrysta parked in her usual spot in her stall. The snow was gleaming on the top of the pasture about a quarter of a mile away from the barn. I had no intention of allowing Khrysta to remain within the confines of the barn trapped by her fears. But I understood those fears. I would not push her but instead we would leave off the saddle, the bridle, the halter, the lead rope and we would walk together; as friends.

I started up the hill not looking back at Khrysta, and I started to sing silly songs. She started to follow, slowly, cautiously, still unsure. Soon, I was wallowing waist deep in snow. A glimpse back; Khrysta still followed.

Halfway up the pasture, the view started to open. Gorgeous mountains cloaked in white. How long had it been since I’d even bothered to notice?

Khrysta paused and began to dig in the snow searching for grass buried now for many months. I watched her busy hooves weave intricate designs.

When she was done, we started our journey once more. On we went, higher still, both of us walking with purpose now, just a little faster, a little more assured.

At the top of the pasture, I paused to look down on the barn, now a dot in the distance. The mountains surrounded me, the vast sky was above me and all of the sudden the malaise of the past few weeks receded. I started running and challenged Khrysta to a race.

She walked behind me at first but as I struggled in the snow drifts and laughed out loud as I repeatedly fell on my face, she started to run faster and then with complete abandon. Running, bucking, joyous in her freedom, Khrysta circled the high meadow.

When she could run no more, she stopped in front of me and put her head on my shoulder. I could feel her hot breath and the utter relaxation in her body. We spent more time on top of the mountain that day, Khrysta and I; hanging out, being friends, letting it all go.

As both Khrysta and I closed our worlds tightly around us the past few weeks, each of us became lost in our fears. I became my heroine, Agnes, and after I became her, I let her fears overwhelm me.

Ah, but now I remember.  It is not the destination. Never. It is the journey; the day-to-day beauty of a life lived with awe, wonder and thankfulness. I may or may not become an author. People may or may not like my work. But no longer will I allow my fears to define me. Yes, I will strive and work hard for my dream but with every day, I will remember to take time to embrace life, enjoy it, thank God for it and step outside myself.

Guillaume Apollinaire said it so beautifully:

“Come to the edge, he said.

We’re afraid, they said.

Come to the edge, he said.

They came.

He pushed them.

And they flew.” 

Find your desire, push yourself and fly.


Mountain Man and Mountain Woman can also be found at http://redpinemountain.com 

mountain woman
5/16/2011 5:51:01 AM

Dave, Thank you so much for your kind words. I am very fond of the story I wrote about Agnes and I might share it on my blog but keep it password protected. It does have some rough language in it but I felt it necessary to step outside my world in order to share Agnes' life. When I decided to start writing after my husband's death, I also decided to share myself because I do believe we are all connected and share more in common than not. It is by opening ourselves up to others that we can all realize life is an incredible journey even though there are days we struggle and become lost. Thank you again so very much.


mountain woman
5/16/2011 5:43:08 AM

Shannon, thank you. Yes, I agree with you completely. One thing I've learned to embrace through my faith is to try to stay present in the moment. Doesn't mean your are immune from pain but to really open myself up to the journey is something I try to do. Thank you again.


dave larson
5/15/2011 8:43:19 AM

Mountain Woman,Your story about fears, yours and Khrysta's, is so beautiful. If your story about Agnes is written with the same heart and the same beauty, I would very much love to read it. You write with such integrity and vulnerability that I'm not surprised that you became emotionally immersed in Agnes. Thank you for sharing your stories as you do. You are inspiring.


s.m.r. saia
5/13/2011 2:02:21 PM

MountainWoman, thanks so much for sharing this beautiful and inspiring story. That our dreams are journeys and not destinations is both the key to happiness I think and - in a world of striving - the hardest thing to understand and to embrace.


mountain woman
5/12/2011 5:59:10 AM

Dave, thank you for sharing your story with me. I was widowed in my 40s and it turned my life upside down to say the least so I can see you and understand your struggles. I think faith has pulled me through everything. The sense that there is a larger plan. I get depressed still, struggle with things, yes, but always there is joy. I know we both understand that as we are older. As to writing, I think you're a fantastic writer because you are able to share you, yourself, and to be open and give through writing is an incredible gift. Here's to many more stories and adventures.


nebraska dave
5/11/2011 8:28:16 PM

Sara, I too agree with Cindy. I really started my adventurous life about 10 years ago. Before that time, I was not the person that I am today. I was an isolated, quiet, unknown person that tagged along with my wife. She was the strong personality and quite frankly I liked it that way. My second hero, my Dad being the first, was a fictional character on Star Trek Next Generation called "Mr. Data". He was my hero because he had no emotion and solved everything by logic. It sounded like the best world as one could never get hurt emotionally or have any kind of fear from anything. Everything I did in life supported that belief. I worked the night shift alone for eight hours a day. I buried myself into my logical computer and mathematical electronics. The only problem was it didn't work. My wife succumbed to the effects of a heart defect at birth at the age of 50, which really left me alone. I really had to make myself have relationships with people in the beginning because I knew that isolation was not a good thing. It was the most scary thing I have ever done in my entire life. My tongue would get tangled up and my knees was acquire weakness to the point that large muscle groups would begin to twitch. Folks that didn't know me back then think I'm telling a fictional story because now I am a totally different person that thrives on relationships. It all happened over time and with small steps.


nebraska dave
5/11/2011 8:27:31 PM

I guess that's why I started writing e-mails and then opened a blog when that became fashionable. I have no aspirations about becoming a writer even there are encouragements to do so from friends and family. I write for the enjoyment of it and keep a record for the great grand kids to have a first hand journal to read about old Grandpop's adventures. It just may encourage them to live life as a great adventure too. Since I have stepped out into the world, life really has become a great adventure every day. I know that you too have had some serious bumps in life and I suspect that you are not quite the person you were back then either. May all you writing experiences make you stronger in your skills and faith. God bless you in all that you do.


mountain woman
5/11/2011 11:35:40 AM

Cindy, I posted a response and hope it doesn't post twice. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your kind comment. I've learned to never let anyone or their thoughts stand in the way of following my dreams and I've also learned that I myself get in my own way at times. Life is certainly a wonderful adventure. Thanks again!


cindy murphy
5/11/2011 7:18:19 AM

Another beautiful post, Mountain Mountain. I hope you received validation from the class for Agnes' story. But if not, it honestly doesn't matter; not every writing style or story line is going to appeal to every group of people, and it may be that this particular group in your class has different tastes. As Almost Country said, trust yourself and your writing. You most definitely have a gift for expressing emotion with your written words. It's something that is often difficult to do, but you do it so well.


mountain woman
5/10/2011 1:40:46 PM

Samantha, Thank you!


samantha
5/10/2011 12:07:06 PM

I so enjoyed this! Thanks


mountain woman
5/10/2011 5:24:32 AM

Thank you so much!


mountain woman
5/10/2011 5:24:29 AM

Thank you so much!


almost country_1
5/9/2011 8:46:23 PM

LOVE this, Mountain Woman! I know so well the fear of putting yourself out there. Trust yourself. Trust your writing. You'll fly.