The horse's pasture to the East...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

STAR TREK VOICES and JAZZ AND RIFFS ON THE WIND or How I sniffed the box...

Sometimes I freeze. It's my Right Brain Introvert side. It's just easier to stay in one place and think about the things I already know and understand than to push myself, even a little, outside my own boundaries. I just want to repeat the familiar, find comfort in the known patterns rather than the unknown. 

I hear this Star Trek voice that says, " Failure is not an option. " although failure, repeat, wash and rinse, and failure one more time is what it's all about as an artist. You've heard this so many times by now that it's become cliched, but there are great piles of junk in every artist's studio they will never let the world see because it didn't work, did not express whatever statement the artist was trying to make. Experimenting with new materials, pushing the boundaries to see what will happen and then watching it all collapse in on itself is normal. All you ever see in any exhibition is the end product beautifully displayed with perfect lighting and background music to set the stage. 

It's taken me a good long while to realize that I understand horses because they live, a majority of their lives, on the right side of their brain. I call it horse time. There is no clock, no definite schedule, no itinerary except being in the moment and surviving, existing. It's the perfect Zen "BE". That place of "BE" is where I have to find my way back to when moving outside the comfort zone and back in to the creative zone. Like a horse I have to skirt the issue, move around the box first, before I step inside. I need to sniff it, taste it, experiment with the doorways before I realize I'm not going to die because the box contains me and then, horrors of horrors, moves and shifts under my feet on it's own!

I know I'm mixing too many metaphors here but then again even my writing is an experiment. I play with the words, throw them in to the bag, toss them around, shake them out and wait to see where it takes me. The essay that almost won my ticket to my nearly ideal place was like that. I kept writing one jumbled up essay after another, editing, rereading, editing, washing and repeating before I, literally, tore them up in to pieces and started to put the best bits together to say what I really needed to say. With John and Valentina's help I put an entirely new essay together, made up from my other stories, sat here and cried because I was so afraid, and sent it off. 

Letting it go was like stepping back and allowing my toddler to stand up, fall down, bonk himself and then, knowing he might hurt himself, standing back and letting him do it again. For his confidence to grow I had to wait for the knocks and bruises to happen. I was my own toddler in this case and a whiney one at that. And I did get banged around a bit but here I am, still breathing. Course my basic nature hasn't changed that much. I'm still ready to run that quarter mile without asking questions or looking back when something spooks me. And even when I'm in familiar territory I still need to do my own approach and retreat to get myself close enough to sniff and taste the next step in to or outside of the box, depending on perspective. 

With that in mind I am going to copy my essay in to this post, to let it breath on it's own one more time. Time to move on. 

Comments From the Pasture

 They come to me , a force of their own, as they fly across the length of the pasture, long legs beating a rhythm, jazz and riffs on the wind. When they reach me, they stop in a line of color, brushing my soul with theirs, letting our hearts synchronize one to the other. They lead me through every day of my life, and they are perfect, each in their own right.

     We all get to the middle of that place in life where we ask ourselves if we're on the right road, if we’re walking the path that fills our heart. Sometimes we never complete the answer. But we ask it. It's one of those rites of passage. 

     I'm a late bloomer, probably because I've worked so hard at keeping the 'child within' side of me alive. I'm an artist. For me to be creative I need to live in a horse-time kind of world, where clocks and bills and schedules are irrelevant, at least while I'm in the studio or sitting here, writing.

     I have three (plus one) muses in the pasture. Each of them brings a gift to the stage. Apache's is healing, power, focus and great presence. When he stands next to you, you feel the Earth rotate, and time stands at attention, waiting. He grounds himself and any other who visits, with his barrel-shaped body, stout legs and great heart.
     When I am with Apache, my American Bashkir Curly, I hear bells, huge, slow moving, powerful hosanna bells that ring with a clear bass, telling me that change is natural, inevitable and easily faced as a herd. 

     Lucky, Mr. Hollywood, is my tall, leggy, sorrel Fox Trotter. He's the one who captures the hearts of all the little girls who come to visit. His conformation is nearly perfect, coat like red silk, with huge, soft brown eyes that see you quietly, honestly. Shy, and an introvert, he prefers to stand behind me, waiting to be introduced. Lucky calls to me every day when I walk out to the barn, even when grazing at the far end of the pasture. His voice is a lovely deep baritone, operatic, rich, expressive. And when we ride he carries me carefully, gently. Maybe his name should have been Sir Galahad. 

     Never least of the three, there is Stone, my sturdy little American Mustang. His color was perfect for the environment he came from, speckled in brown and dark grey on a light creamy grey coat with dark Prussian blue legs and haunches. He's my horse of a different color, with his slightly Roman nose and large soulful eyes. He has endured great loss with a stoic presence, watchful and ever vigilant. The day that he connected with me, at last releasing some of the fear and pain he carried, I cried. It was an overwhelming wave of sadness, making me catch my breath with its honesty. He needs a herd, a partner. He shows it with his willingness to move with me gracefully, in sync and elegant. He gives his heart fully without regret, inspires me with his wildness and natural integration with the world he lives in, always adjusting to his present.

     And then there is my "plus one” : Willow. She came to me an orphan, much too small to be without her mom. I took her without looking back, knowing very little about donkeys. She needed me, I stepped up. I've been there before, learning along the way to be a "parent". When she was ill, we nearly lost her. She came back because I sat on the ground, holding her and calling her back. 

     Willow brings laughter and attitude. When I am not there she is boss lady of the pasture, stomping her tiny hooves, shaking her head, pinning long ears to show her ire. She pushes her bubble of energy out in front, moving everyone who gets in her way. No predators in our pastures! She sets the rules and trains all of the dogs who've lived with us to always respect her space and her herd. And she's so small she walks under Lucky, stopping to rub her head on his belly. We call them the Alpha and the Princess.

     I keep a stack of barn books that record our days together. The games we've played, the events and accomplishments, the rides and worries are all there. Ideas for paintings, drawings, stories and essays are on those pages. They pop into my head while I am breathing in the mysterious world of horses. 

     I am obsessed. And I am entranced, captured, held by an image they give to me. They are the music in my days. I am an artist, a horsewoman, a storyteller and a prisoner of their hearts.

     We are impermanent here. Before long, we will be forced to pack up and go because we don’t own the property we live on. We need a new home, new pastures and fields on which to write our story, tales which will intertwine with the stories long embedded in your land if you decide to entrust us with its stewardship. We feel ready for a new beginning in Virginia. We will bring our energy and enthusiasm, but also our respect for the needs of the land and wildlife, mindful of Nature’s long-term health and it’s potential to bring joy and peace to many generations. We promise to be good listeners, gentle farmers and caretakers, and a resource for the whole community, freely passing on what we were taught by our elders, our horses and the land itself.

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