The trail was quiet except for the chirping of an early rising bird to my right—singing her bequeathed song, harmonizing with the hum of a far off insect while a brilliant blue dragonfly loped through the air in front of me.
I could hear a tapping sound each time one of my feet collided with the uneven ground—a metronome persuading my onward urge, and the sound of my breath rhythmically flowing in-and-out: a relentless tidal ebb and flow—dependable.
My eyes shifting up and down as I watched the trees bathe in the morning light; skinny dipping in the opulent golden rays, an endless variation of greens, leaping and turning in the fluid light and the gentle breeze. My eyes then fell to the dusty trail in search of my own leaping-dancing-frolicking opportunities—the multitude of rocks, roots and unknown twists and turns.
This routine was so established in my day—my comfort, my peace.
I rounded the next corner, my eyes lifted just in time to see a sudden movement, a large black shape bearing down on me, a sight so foreign to the serenity of my habitual view on this lonely trail.
It was a horse with a rider. I startled just as he startled. I stood motionless: rooted into the ground like the many trees surrounding us, steadfast in a position that offered no threat to either of us.
He wasn’t soothed.
He reared up and bucked his faithful rider off. She hit the ground painfully hard and I stood planted; I slowly raised my hands, palms open—a gesture of peace.
There was another rider and horse not far behind who witnessed it all. She coaxed me forward, apologetically.
She explained, “It’s okay, he just didn’t see you coming. You could have been anything: a deer, a squirrel, a dog, a bear…..anything, it wouldn’t have made a difference. It wasn’t your fault. He’s okay now.”
I continued to hold my hands open—a gesture of peace—and walked forward, a tender gait: watching, sensing, digesting the fragility, devouring the dispositions, soaking in the experience, submitting, honoring and accepting.
The trail was narrow, so I walked ever so gently, within inches of the massive black stallion, looking into his eyes attempting to convey reconciliation.
I apologized once again to the fallen rider. My own carriage diminished—by the size of the horse, the size of my trepidation and the enormity of my guilt for inspiring fear in others—smaller and smaller, with each step forward, along the path, around the group.
The rider continued to encourage my forward motion and assured me in my intention—to exceed my perceived limitations—with a perceptible nod she offered her permission to forge ahead: persist on the path of furtherance.
I jogged on in solitude: the tip-tap sound of my feet as they fell onto the earth beneath me, subtly penetrating my wall—my pretense—my guard, consoled by my breath, steady and resilient.
Tears welled up in my eyes as the entirety of the experience began to seep through my fallen wall: the adjustment.
I found my pace again, and continued to run through the forest, the umbrella of ancient fir trees crowning my continuance, carrying with me: the feeling of uncertainty, the unknown of what was looming around the next corner, the concern for the rider, and a relief that I had moved forward, through and beyond the fear, and the knowledge that ultimately—everyone was okay.
Throughout my beaten path of life, I walk along in safety within the confines of my established routine and settle into it—a plush chaise lounge, flanked by hand-crafted quilts.
The protective enfolding of regularity that I skillfully created through many years of trial and error—a distinctively unique variance of hues that were drawn from a kaleidoscope of my own perceptions and memories—serves as a home for my psyche to rest into the predictable.
Every once in a while, something comes around the corner and startles me: a new opportunity, an illness of a loved one, a new goal to reach, a new challenge, or maybe a new romance leaps into my life.
Initially I startle, I stop and I assess.
There are times when I turn away, make a U-turn, and go back into my safety: intuition.
There are times when I stand precariously and absorb, learn and reserve my right to turn back at any moment: a vital curiosity.
I can also, as I did today, square my shoulders, allow a deep expansion of my chest, inhaling energy and fortitude from all the courageous and long-standing life around me, and walk forward.
My own carriage: enlarging, growing and expanding.
I can look the stallion in the eye, reach into the depths of my authenticity and convey to him: a harmony in our shared strength, peace, understanding and respect. Then continue jogging forward, ahead and beyond.
The stallion returned my gaze with acknowledgement: the mighty stallion who could also startle.
Author: Adria Cannon
Editor: Travis May
Image: Flickr/AM Renault