I was in 3rd grade. It seemed to take my mom hours to drive our 1979 tan Bronco up that curvy road to the open field behind my classmate’s house where the birthday party was. My anticipation was met by fourteen screaming classmates, all clamoring to see who could ride the pony first. My grandma had taken me to the pony rides many times from the time I was very young, strapped into the saddle by age three. I always opted for the fast lane, bouncing with sheer delight and begging to go again and again, but I had never gotten to ride alone, in a big field, without lanes, with no one holding on to a lead rope.
It was a warm California day in the hills of Santa Barbara. The sky was large and blue and it seemed everywhere I looked there were bees buzzing around nearby flowers. It’s funny that I would notice all the flowers blooming when ponies were all I was focused on. I don’t recall my mom leaving after she dropped me off, but by the time my mom arrived back to pick me up, I had already gotten to ride the pony two times around that big field, just like all the other children whose pony dreams were coming true that day. Most of the children had already been picked up by their parents and the party was over, but I just had to show my mom how fast I could go on that pony, and so I asked if I could ride a third time. They say three is a charm.
Sitting straight and proud, with a huge smile pointed directly at my mom, off I went, trotting once again. I loved that free feeling, flying and bouncing through the grassy field. It was only a split second from the time I lifted off the saddle to when I hit the ground. There was sharp pain in my left wrist, and when I looked up through a flood of tears, I could see my mom running across the field to me.
The drive back down the curvy road didn’t take nearly as long, and two hours later I had a cast on my broken wrist. Six weeks later I was riding ponies again. Breaking my wrist didn’t make me afraid of horses in the least. Actually, somehow, it only solidified my knowing I was meant to ride since I couldn’t wait to be able to again, and I just didn’t have any fear. That was the day that began my many years of riding fast and free with no one holding the lead rope.
When did we become so afraid? When we were young, even a broken arm wouldn’t keep us from venturing out to do something we love. Sometimes we wouldn’t even think about it, no concern for what could happen, what already did happen, and might happen again. We’re just wild for anticipation of the fun and adventure. But somehow, as the years go by, our sense of thrill is replaced by trepidation, and fear seizes any previously delightful enthrallment that would have launched us into an adventure.
For years, prior to having my first baby, I seemed to have no fear. I was so adventurous. Four-wheel driving in the snow on unmarked roads, visiting places I’d never been before, riding my horse (a trained barrel-racer) at top speeds without a saddle. Then, after I had children, my caution and fear took over my mind with every activity, or so it seemed. The fear of what could happen. This kept me from allowing them to do certain things with my over-cautious attitude trying to keep them protected and safe. How can we get back to that place of care-free, delightful expression in our activities? Not with reckless abandon of course, but not having our monkey-minds consumed with stopping us, rather than allowing us to fully enjoy and experience that present moment?
I was reminded today of Winnie the Pooh’s conversation with Piglet when Piglet says to Pooh, “Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?” “Supposing it didn’t”, said Pooh. After careful thought, Piglet was comforted by this. A.A. Milne
Supposing we all start spending intentional time on what could be, rather than what might happen to us? I think we’d feel a little more like that free kid again riding a pony fast, without a lead rope, for the first time.