Another 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.
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.
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
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