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“A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open.”
 
 Gerald Raferty
 
 
Monday mornings at work are always a swirl of mystery, magic, and surprises.  I suppose this is bound to be the case in beginning my work week at a Therapeutic Riding Center.  The facility I run my Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy group out of is a quiet nook of the world on a sandy dirt road edging a canal ravine.  I don’t know if anyone else does this on this particular stretch of street but I find myself glancing down at the murky green waters waiting to see round, black alligator eyes peering up at me.  The center itself is vast acreage lined with white wooden fences and a crisp white barn that houses 16 or so horses.  Monday mornings are reserved just for my group and the cleaning crew, inmates from a local prison facility.  It is an interesting mix of life–horses in stables, convicts driving small tractors, and my little group of trauma survivors working with their equine counterparts.  In its surreality it is quite freeing and outside of social norms and constructs.  We are dancing a dance that is part magic, part illusion, and yet more real than most that life has to offer.  Something in horses brings real to the surface and pushes out all the tedium and strife that are found outside stable gates.  Horses, like yoga, strip life away to its naked essence and allow for us to breathe in the moment and leave everything else behind. 
 
 
This particular Monday morning I was absurdly alert and reflective, still lingering on my 5am wake up, 6am meditation and the lack of television, radio, and all superfluous noise in my life.  My mind was paradoxically more quiet and more active than it normally is on any given Monday.  In that I mean that my brain had omitted a lot of the white noise from conscious thought and in its place was an awakened clarity and sharpness that I guess is the result of having been up for hours and having meditated to start my day.
 
 
Suddenly, I heard a loud thunk and vocal commotion and turned around the side of the barn to see a white mare galloping off through the back of the stalls.  I see a correctional officer, the guardian of the inmates, standing baffled and amused holding the chain latch of the horse’s stall.  “I can’t believe it, she chewed through the damn thing again.  That is the second time she has done that,” he said and kept repeating it as if he could not imagine such tenaciousness in a horse.  An older inmate standing next to me, and dressed in his working blue cotton uniform, looked in my eyes and said, “She just wants that freedom, you can see it in how she’s running.”  He stared after her, mesmerized, as the last bit of her white mane disappeared around the corner and I looked over at him wondering if he knew how profoundly metaphoric his statement had just been.
 
 
Here stood a man who was living in a world that was predominantly caged and in the one place in his week where he was given freedom, space, clean country air, and equine surroundings.  And as he watched this white mare’s dedicated effort to break free of her cage I could feel, in my proximity to him, his understanding of her yearning.  And in them both I saw a moment of magic–connection between human and horse and metaphor from the stables into the world.  It was one of those moments you want to bottle both miraculous, soulful, joyful, and sorrowful.  The smile on the inmate’s face lingered as he turned from the horse and went back to his shovel, back to his work, and back into the mind of a man who understood the yearning to be free. 
 
 
In that moment I shared with both of them, before the white mare was brought back to her stall, I saw a sliver of that man and a glimmer of that horse, and both of their natural longing to be free in the world–the way they once were.  Some days, especially lately, juggling worlds upon worlds, I feel like maybe I am overloaded and completely insane in my juggling efforts.  On days like Monday I am grateful for the world I live in, the life I have, and the honor I feel in being able to work in a way that facilitates moments like these–spontaneous and amazing. 
 

Caution Tape by Picture Perfect Pose at flickrCaution Tape by Picture Perfect Pose at flickr

 

I have learned a lot about lizards these past few weeks.  As of this morning I can add to my credentials “One who knows what dead lizards look like in my entryway”.  Tonight I can certify that I know what amphibious mortis (please forgive my rudimentary latin translation of dead lizard) looks like after a day on an entryway floor.   They deflate…rather fast.

 

Now, you may be wondering why would I wait about 12 hours to remove said lizardus corpus (ok now I am just making my own version of latin up).  There is a two prong approach to my reasoning: 1) I was not certain that being upside down with legs in the air was a definitive diagnosis of amphibian death so I wanted to give it some time to see.  2) 7:00 am is just too early in the morning for me to brave the task of scooping up and disposing of lizard remains.

 

I believe the dead lizard, “John Gecko Doe” is The Lizard Formerly Known As “Shower Lizard” .  He was meandering nearly lifeless around the bathroom floor at abnormally slow lizard speeds the last couple of days following the day I thought I had drowned him with my shampoo toxins.  Apparently I had caused him a much more sinister and drawn out death sentence.  I feel awful and I gave him a tiny lizard prayer as I scooped him up, flattened and scaly, and placed him into my garbage can.  Thank goodness for trash Wednesdays. 

 

But my short lived friend once fondly called “Shower Lizard” has helped me to create my own parallel from his death to my life. 

 

 I was in a little bit of a funk yesterday.  My pain had reached an all time high by sunset to the point where I felt the familiar sensation of shooting sparks of fire rippling down from my abdomen into my thighs–if you had not guessed, this is the bad end of the endometriosis pain spectrum. 

 

On top of that I had  begun work at my new office, having completed a week of prerequisite orientation off-site, and felt the sinking feeling of “First Day of School for the New Kid” with a sense of just having been thrust from my place as well-respected innovator to unknown, anonymous, new person with no history of much consequence.  Whether this perception was just my New Kid mindset or anything besides is irrelevant it was simply that feeling of being set off kilter and humbled by the death of one life and the start of another. 

 

Rebirth–professionally speaking. 

 

Death precedes rebirth.  Nature does it.  Faith and religions talk about it.  Our human lives exhibit it.  We are in constant cycles of renewal whether by catalysts we create or those we have inflicted on us.  We are made to adapt and change along with those things in our life that require it: stagnation can happen but it is in our own best interest to constantly stretch ourselves. 

 

My move, my new job, my new locale were all things I put into my life by choice but feeling the growing pains of that change in action is a learning experience which brings me new surprises at every step. 

 

I did not know that I would have such a moment of mourning at letting go of my old professional sphere and the comfort of the known I had found in it.  I did not know that I would be separated from my husband for this long and that the distance would bring with it unknown pains and unanticipated appreciation at a deeper and deeper level for what my husband means in my life and in my heart. 

 

Change brings with it struggles with the unknown, with our own insecurities, and the growing pains that bring us out on the other side changed but evolved in some way.  The death is always rebirth of some kind and fear can becoming invigorating awareness, although always with some struggles along the way.

 

I am appreciative of the distance and time apart from my husband (on my better days) because it has allowed me the blessing of knowing my love for him in a far more dimensional way than I had ever known before.  I am thankful for the new opportunities in a new place, a new job, and the new adventures that might be on the horizon as a result.  I, as all of us do, fear the death of the old but know that what is being born is not just a new life but valuable lessons about myself along the way. 

 

I thank my fond friend of only a few short weeks “Shower Lizard” for reminding me of the cycle of life.  I hope he finds all the shower drains his little heart could ever desire wherever he has gone to.  And I really hope he is the last deflated amphibious mortis that I have to scoop for a while.  It is a disheartening side job.

 

Life is change.   Growth is optional.  Choose wisely. 

AUTHOR UNKNOWN

 

Boken by MSIChicago on flickr

Boken Egg by MSIChicago

Starting Life by jimdeane at flickr

                                                     {1}Starting Life by jimdeane on flickr

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