The Seduction of the Known
This is a post about letting go. That phrase has been haunting me for weeks and I've been struggling to do it consistently. In a book about structure called The Path of Least Resistance, Robert Fritz recounts how, at 40, D.H. Lawrence discovered he could view himself as a blank canvas and make a new picture of himself. He refused to be stuck in an unalterable self, but began literally re-creating himself as he wished. But he had to first let go of one version, I think--hence the "blank slate"--before he could create another. The salient ingredient, Lawrence noted, is courage.
About a week ago, I noticed that a six-inch stretch on either side of Dorian's spine was so painful, he flinched, buckled a bit, and side-stepped when I palpated him there. You can imagine the fear that fled through me. Had he injured himself in that mad and mindless racing around the outdoor arena? Was his spine out of alignment so badly that he couldn't stand me palpating his muscle? Did I create this by riding him in an attempt to move him through the fear and mistrust we'd experienced as a result of those recent, freaky experiences?
My great friend and brilliant farrier, Shannon, was due out that week. After doing Dorian's feet, she asked to see my saddle and we noticed at a posting trot, I was coming down right along the area that was so sore. Then another friend, Liz, took a look at the saddle fit and figured it was a bit sticky at the shoulder and likely wasn't affording free range of motion (Shannon had also observed that--she felt he needed massage for the pain.).
More self-recriminations followed! How could I be SO oblivious? I felt like an ignorant fool and actually entertained the notion that I should sell Dorian to someone who knew enough to take care of him. That person, evidently was not me.
How many of us doubt ourselves in this way when something goes awry? That line of thinking is a dark spiral that goes only downward, and nothing good or progressive comes of it.
I then realized that I've been riding in that saddle for a number of years, and nothing like this had ever occurred before now. Mystery upon mystery. To get to the bottom of things, I made an appointment with a chiropractor who also is certified in equine massage . . . I promised D. we would get to the bottom of things!
"If you’re trying to “connect” with your horse, or share love, or feel close – those are all energetic pressures. You need to develop your own self-love, your own meditative practice, so you can sit in stillness and acceptance of yourself, first." Listen To Your Horse (Jini Patel Thompson and Keisa Mei Nagata).
As I sat at home, allowing myself to open to a deeper understanding of what was going on, I noticed how much pain I was in. My whole arm throbbed in pain and numbness. Linda Kohanov, writer and equine-assisted psychotherapist and someone I've mentioned in earlier posts, notes that horses and their humans are attracted by what she calls "emotional resonance." Often the horses we're drawn to have the same issues or traumas we've experienced. We're generally not aware of that--it exists below the conscious level.
I reached out to Dorian, sending the message that he could let go of the pain--it wasn't his! I was about to learn a good lesson about that.
"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty." Eric Fromm
The day of the appointment, I spent the morning and early afternoon sinking deeply into the word "choice." Like D.H. Lawrence, I'd been devoting myself lately to actively "unplugging" from old choices, and being open to creating something new. It's a scary process, full of the darkness of the unknown. Leaving what is known, familiar, and safe, taking responsibility for new choices, but not knowing what lies ahead nor how to get there--it can be really frightening!
The day had been filled with the sorrow that comes with letting go. Things long buried came to the surface. Still, through the uncomfortable process I insisted on releasing all the resistance in the way of creating something new even though I didn't have the least idea what the next step would be. Trust and openness were my touchstones in that process.
"It's really hard to train yourself to not have an agenda." Guliz Unlu.
By the time Dorian's appointment occurred in the late afternoon, I was feeling like a limp rag, or like I'd just been through major surgery. My body was filled with the pain of struggling to let go and the pain of releasing.
Dr. Amanda Krueger stepped out of her van and headed into the barn where I had Dorian tied. She instantly read him, and probably me. She went directly to the place on his back, then palpated other areas . . . She asked me if we'd gone through anything unusual lately and I let her know what Dorian and I were still working through.
She turned to me, with a hand on Dorian's back and said, "The moment I approached you two, I knew this was emotional." Her diagnosis? " You both need to let go."
Emotional. Letting go . . . Something in me just gave way--tears came to my eyes. What Amanda said had nailed it--both things were exactly what I'd been struggling so hard to get through and do. She worked with me and with Dorian. I found myself experiencing just what Dorian was experiencing as he let go of the pain.
The pain was actually him holding onto fear--and isn't that generally what's at the root of pain and resistance? Isn't it fear underneath all the turmoil, the blocks, the resistance, the pain we feel at one time or another?
"If things aren’t going well, maybe it’s time to listen to what our horse is trying to tell us. It could very well be that he has the answer . . ." Mark Rashid
As the work progressed, both Dorian and I sighed deeply. And at one point, my whole body and mind opened to how profoundly we are connected, how much love we share, how much we both needed to release and re-align. It was a freeing and buoyant experience for me to participate in us both letting go of the past--let go of the trauma and fear it had engendered in both of us.
I'd been working on that realignment in the arena, on a lead rope, under saddle. But I hadn't allowed myself to get to the level where the blocks actually existed--in our bodies, in our psyches, our consciousness, and in our emotions.
But we are doing that now.
So, as I close this post, I am committing to not being seduced by the safe, the familiar, the known. There's a wide, wide universe we exist within and who we are as beings is vast and explorable. When we're open, when we allow ourselves to step into that new universe without fear, without holding on so tightly, it's exciting, powerfully energizing, and healing. Letting go is truly liberating.
If we do that, who knows what wonders we might discover, or create?