Light Our Way Home
There was an interesting study in Sussex, England, in 2018 which found that horses not only identify but remember facial expressions and that they "read" our emotional states. In addition, they remember them and respond to people according to how the person looks and feels.
We also know that horses affect us--their electromagnetic field is wide and includes us as we come close to them. Other research shows our heartbeats and breathing come in sync with horses as we ride them. Their serenity becomes ours.
There’s no secret bit or feed supplement that’s going to replace partnership. Boyd Martin
That's such a different relationship paradigm from the "co-modified" ones we often experience in the world. Too often, what we "bring to the table" seems the measure of our worth, rather than who we are. A lot of our experiences, I think, are based on some weird "exchange rate" rather than on an equal partnership where each person recognizes and responds to the inherent worth and needs of the other.
Horses, and most animals we live with I think, don't offer a relationship built on an "exchange rate." Dorian isn't happy in my presence because I feed or groom him. And, as I know all too well, sometimes he's not so happy at all in my presence, but that's rare and only comes when I'm the one out of sync--not him.
A friend recently shared a similar experience from her childhood. She, too, said that so much of how she learned to "be" came from hanging out in a pasture with a herd of horses. If she came to them angry or upset, they weren't so keen to relate to her.
"Abiding in darkness gives passage into light."
But, she said, once she was able to identify that, and get to what I've been calling "the self below the self"--that authentic identity we all have apart from acculturation--the horses were really happy to have her among them.
So how do we get there--to that "self below the self"?
Obviously, I've been giving that a lot of thought.
Darnell Moore is an interesting guy. He's a writer and political activist, very prominent in the Black Lives Matter movement, which he calls the "Movement for Black Lives." The thing I'm drawn to in his thinking is his concept of "unbecoming."
My translation of that is that he's advocating being radically honest with ourselves. Moore feels that the only genuine personal or cultural progress we make comes from this sort of honest assessment and then making conscious changes. He asks us to "unbecome" who we've been. choosing what we'll be rather than being manipulated by values, beliefs, messages, which are so often out of our awareness.
I look at it as peeling away the outer layers and doing a deep dive through inner resistances to uncover the truth of our being.
Darkness can't exist in light.
And the first step, he says, is getting comfortable in the darkness--again, to me, he's talking about the darkness in ourselves. Moore advocates abiding there and allowing that darkness to become apparent to us. Only then can it be brought into the light and so purified.
And that's why horses are such great facilitators of the light in us. They have no need to purify themselves--they are, by nature, filled with light, dignity, serenity, grace, and quiet majesty. And they gladly share that with us, if we let them.
So, as we struggle around in our culture and as part of our culture, abiding in darkness with less awareness, normally, than Darnell Moore brings to the task, there's a shortcut through all that angst.
The quietude of horses can, quite literally, light our way home.