• vslachman

At Liberty

This is not the easiest post to write. Dorian and I have been through some pretty deep water in the last month. Thankfully, we've both come out of it well. I'm not sure I can write about our experiences with even a modicum of grace, but I'm going to try.

"Your identity is a mirror covered with dust." Jay Shetty quoting his teacher Gauranga Das.

As I was driving home from a lovely Thanksgiving with my daughter and her husband, I received an email abruptly ordering Dorian and I to vacate the barn where he was stabled by the end of December--no explanation. There ensued some quite vile verbal assaults on me, unprovoked and unwarranted, and that (thankfully) didn't seem to "land" on me. The whole experience seemed more perplexing than hurtful.

Dorian arriving at his new barn.

I did find a wonderful barn and moved Dorian in the middle of December.

He has a lovely stall with a walkout that looks over the back pasture and woods--he seemed instantly at home in his new digs.

Then he got injured, or so it seemed. I won't go into the dire outlook for him, but it left me devastated and pretty continually in tears.

It seemed the negative thoughts sailing my way hadn't affected me, but they sure landed hard on Dorian--who as you likely understand, means more to me than most else in my life.

It didn't look like he'd ever recover fully. So . . . after a hellish few weeks, I just said a very loud NO! to the picture we were facing. And I set myself to see more deeply what is real and what is not. I focused on the truth about him, about his Creator, about the world we actually exist in and more profoundly inhabit.

Waiting for his dinner. Nothing keeps Dorian from eating!

That journey has literally changed --or maybe righted and reoriented--the course of my life.

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours." Wayne Dyer.

That's not exactly a quote about horsemanship, I realize, but it was the first step needed in our healing journey. I totally cleared my thought about the previous barn and all its happenings. I continually asked to see what was true there in place of past injuries of all sorts, what was real and lasting.

And when I quieted myself all that I saw was goodness . . . the sanctuary of that barn, the love and joy expressed by all there, the authenticity of everyone and every horse as, in truth, filled with the light to freely express their true natures.

Freedom. That's what I focused on.

Prior to all this, Dorian and I had been working on doing work "at liberty"--without a halter or bridle--just the two of us without any aids. I love that work--it's all about connection. All about union, silence, serenity, presence . . . and reaching that level of communion that defies what the material senses tell us.

That freedom in a larger sense--the freedom of movement for Dorian, freedom to go forward for us, freedom from fear and sorrow for me--that's what was taken from us. Or seemed to be.

Dorian in the outdoor arena the first day of his arrival.

As I entered into this more profound level of understanding, I stopped rehabbing Dorian in the physical sense. I began "rehabbing" my vision of reality--who he is, where we reside, what reality we move through, and who we are as we do that. I saw we express what's true about us, we don't "work up to" or try hard to recapture being ourselves--I saw Dorian as whole and expressing every quality of completeness, goodness, purity, grace, perfection and so on--every intact quality he was created to be and enjoy. I saw he moved, quite literally, as joy expressed, as love expressed, as life and innocence expressed.

"The cure for the pain is in the pain." Roger Wodger.

Finally, I saw that he was and always had been completely apart from the miserable picture trying so very hard to present itself. As Gauranga Das noted, all we need to do is dust off the mirror to find that the true image has always been there and has never been altered.

And that's true of each of us, not only true of our beloved horses.

And finally . . . finally, I was able to let go. Let go of responsibility for him. Let go of sorrow--there was no need for it! Let go of pressure or fear or what ifs . . . Instead, I chose to reside in what I was learning about what's real and what's not. And goodness, I saw, is always, always, the reality. Goodness, love, and a life to be enjoyed and lived, a life that is abundantly blessed.

Jeremiah 1:18, 19 "For behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city. And they shall fight against thee but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee." The Bible, KJV.

So I waited. I'm not a patient person, for sure. But I waited for Dorian to show me he was ready to take steps into his new future. There was a herd of new friends waiting for him; he was being cared for by a wonderful staff in a clean, lovely stall with a walk-out looking over the back pastures and the woods where, hidden, the river wound and flowed over rocks creating a wonderful murmur of serenity.

During all that waiting, we took very long walks--Dorian grazed and I basked in the light-infused creation all around us. I stood with him in the sun as he fell asleep. I sat in his pasture as he tried to walk and graze.

I waited. And prayed. And waited.

And then one day as I walked into the pasture where he stood, one day when I again asked, "Please show me you're ready . . ." One day that literally could have been any other day, he looked up at me and took off at a trot, then a canter, and then a beautiful, head-shaking, joy-filled gallop around and around and around the huge pasture where he'd spent weeks trying so hard just to walk.

I turned him out with the herd the next day and he instantly made a bunch of new friends. When I tried to take him out of the pasture just to say goodbye for the day and give him his "goodbye" carrots, he planted his feet and wouldn't budge!

You would think I'd be dumbfounded. I was not. I was grateful, but what's so remarkable about such healings is how utterly natural they are. For weeks I'd been seeing Dorian as he truly is--Dorian has always been this free. The task wasn't to make him perfect, it was to "dust off the mirror" and see he has always and will always be perfect.

I just needed to see it and accept it and be patient enough to allow it to happen.

The lessons have been many for me. The illusion that anyone else could affect any aspect of me or my life or what and who I love is just that--an illusion. The lesson about the need for me to "move forward" is too obvious to even mention. The fact that we are all "at liberty" and that that is our right and our true existence . . . that's the biggest lesson of all.

Dorian surveying his domain. :)

We are free. We've always been free no matter what the appearance tries to make us believe. And yes, I know that the pandemic is raging around us all. I'm not oblivious to the suffering and sorrow haunting so many lives. But I've also seen there's a deeper level of truth we can trust and experience, and I choose to bring that awareness--as much as possible--into everything I do.

Last Sunday Dorian and I took an hour-long ride around the pastures and through the woods, along the river that continues to roll forward . . . and the during the entire outing Dorian wanted to do nothing but run! Freedom is contagious.

Soon after this healing, Dorian and I resumed our "at liberty" work. The other day someone passed us in the round pen and remarked "Oh, that's lovely--you're dancing!"

And so I say, with enormous gratitude, we are.

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