☆ April 4, 2011
I went out with Flicka this morning. She was given to me by a neighbor who was moving away and could no longer care for her. She’s four, and when she arrived, she was untamed and full of fear. It took two weeks before I could touch her.
I’d sit on the fence and just be present as she and Ranger and Mike’s horse Kota ate, and as they rested in their serene, secret meditation. I’d brush Ranger and Kota, ignoring her physically but talking to them all; she watched me, and watched how Ranger and Kota – who she had come to trust – trusted me.
Then one day, as I stood amongst them, brush in hand, she slowly approached me. She stopped right in front of me, facing me, then lowered her head slightly and brushed her cheek against my cheek. And then she stepped forward a bit more, broadside to me, with her shoulder at my torso, as if to say, “you can brush me now, and please start here.” And so I did.
Flicka is richly, divinely beautiful ~ she is the Elizabeth Taylor of horses. And when she moves, the sight makes me catch my breath in a secret smile. When she and Ranger and Kota race the length of their field, she is always far in front. Her hooves seem to barely skim the ground ~ it is not a choppy gallop she has; her body hardly seems to move as she shears effortlessly across the landscape. She is the only other animal I have seen who moves with the impossible speed and grace of a coyote.
I was going to pay someone to “break” her, but then, realizing how deeply she has come to trust me and how I, too, had come to trust myself, I decided to take it on myself. This morning, while she and I were out in the BLM, picking our way through the sagebrush, flirting with the sun and the breeze, I wondered to myself, “why am I so eternally patient with animals, but have little patience for people?”
I thought about this off and on throughout our walk, and as we were closing the loop towards home, I thought perhaps it’s because animals have no ego. And to work well with an animal, it is a requirement to have no ego yourself. And I love that state. It’s a requirement for true art, as well. (Art, to me, being the act, the transcendence which occurs in the doing, not the “product.”) People, on the other hand, are so often dominated by ego. Sometimes, it is so hard to remain without ego when surrounded by so much of it; sometimes it feels lonely to witness so much energy spent maintaining something that is, ultimately, false: it’s such a contest, but it’s all smoke and mirrors; nothing is ever won, and so very much is lost.