I enjoy many different blogs, but one of my favorite daily inspirations is Victoria Cumming’s “Teachings of the Horse.” http://victoriacummings.blogspot.com/
Victoria’s March 16th post speaks about facing your personal demons, and the lessons learned from life’s great challenges. She also parallels riding (horses) and writing. It reminded me of a piece I wrote about the same thing almost two years ago. Thank you, Victoria…this one is for you:
I am sick of writing practice and tossed my notebook into a corner. It has become like riding used to be: All that practice at the sitting trot around the ring, balanced reins on the serpentines and figure eights, smooth transitions to the canter on the correct lead and back down again, for what? You do not need these skills on the trail. You do this for an hour, sometimes with an instructor, sometimes not, for what purpose?
To show off, that’s why I did it. There is just enough competitive spirit in my little pinkie to make me want to be really good at just one thing. And not for the heck of it either, but to win a tangible reward—a slip of cheap blue ribbon, a brief applause, a smile of pride from someone who knew the sacrifice and the pain that grew the skill.
I used to show horses. Not very much. It was expensive and after the unexpected loss of my own horse, I was dependent upon the loan of someone else’s good animal. I rode a lot of them as a trusted exercise girl in the barns where I worked, but there were only a few whose backs I braved to ride before a judge. Those little shows gave me purpose. I had to perfect my transitions, correct my diagonals for a reason beside better balance. I would be judged for it. Working toward a show sharpened my senses and my self-discipline. It also made me a nervous wreck.
So it is with writing. Going round and round the ring writing in my notebook. Fillng tome after tome with assignments, promises and prompts, emotional gusts and boring treatises to myself. What is the point? It is dull and plodding but, like sliding a sweat-soaked saddle off the back of a steaming mare, there is the meaty satisfaction that both the ride and the writing has brought together an essence of body and soul that nothing else can duplicate. Sometimes, the magic happens. In both, the entire universe is in that moment where past, present and future bind together into one sudden and immediate presence.
Writing, like riding, will never be perfect. There is only the randy hope there will be the occasional flash of brilliance, where the horse finally curls her back in acceptance of my weight, or the nugget of an idea gallops out upon the page. In both, there is the intuitive instant when you know this is the way it is supposed to be, this is the moment God waits to show her face, and we find we are up to the task.
Those moments in riding and in writing have been few and far between, and never in a public arena. They are private moments, between me and a beloved animal, me and a piece of paper. Yet the daily work that made these moments happen was because I was working toward something. I had a goal. It is why I have become rather cavalier about writing in the ring—there is no show to work toward, no final day of revelation where I can trot out into the sunshine on a gleaming gelding to claim a well-earned prize. The only prize here is yet another filled notebook and a weary hand.
But…you know I will keep writing anyway. It is my private access trail to myself.