Various events in our childhood, unbeknownst to us at the time, stretched our confidence in ourselves to try new and different things.
If we were encouraged to follow our curiosity, many gifts of our unique strengths and passions gradually began to be revealed to us.
Based on our innate wherewithal as well as the support around us, even if the attempts in areas of our curiosity weren’t at first successful, we either tried again or didn’t. It is my hope that you did.
It is my hope that you did because you tried initially likely because you intrinsically were drawn to whatever it was. Your curiosity pulled you toward this new ‘thing’ like a magnet, and it wasn’t by chance.
In the trying again we prepared our mind and our heart in priceless ways that in our adult years to the outside world may seem completely disparate to those events in our childhood where we soared, but in fact, they are indeed related.
From time to time I will reflect on my own childhood, exploring why or where the source of my determination to choose various paths in my adult life, some not at all what I had seen modeled, and while I do know, after getting to know myself well, that innately it is part of who I am, I also know that nurture played a powerful part as well. From my experiences in athletics as well as much time spent outdoors in the wilderness on my own, also with my father who worked in the Wildlife division of his occupation, and I cannot forget my time riding English equestrian, specifically, Open Hunter.
Open Hunter in the 4-H division involves English Equestrian riders jumping 8-10 fences on a designated course being judged on form, completion and time. Jumping had always been a dream of mine as a young girl seeing other riders skillfully guide their horses with them astride over the jumps with grace, but initially there was also trepidation on my part regarding how I would be able to do it.
With the awesome natural abilities of my trusted steed, who I purchased with my own savings for $400, an elegant black half Arabian jumper, she taught me how to trust that all would be well so long as I prepared us properly for the jump. In other words, the potential was there – all the pieces beyond my control were at my disposal – now I had to get myself readied.
There is a saying that is shared by Deborah Adele in The Yamas & Niyamas, a book detailing the tenets of Yoga, of which she adopts as it is borrowed from equestrians as they prepare themselves to jump the fences. She writes that riders need to prepare their mind as much as they need to prepare anything else because, and it is true, if we don’t take the horse properly into the jump, then we are the one’s to blame, and to take our horse properly into the jump means to both physically and mentally prepare our state of being.
Of course, perfect jumps will not happen every time even if we do prepare in all ways properly – a fence will be touched or knocked down, or if the fence is high enough (ours, as you will notice in the photo, weren’t terribly high as compared to fences you see in the Olympics for example), there may be a tumble with your horse. And knowing all of this as potentiality, the mind must be set to Anticipatory Confidence as they call it. Confidence possessed that even though we cannot know what will come when we leap, we are confident we are prepared and pointed in the best direction to have success.
And then, she writes, we must “throw our heart over the fence, and the jump after it”.
The wonderful news I can confirm to be true is that becoming comfortable with “throwing our heart over the fence” and taking action forward not knowing what will come does come with regular practice of taking this action. As we begin our first jump, there will be nerves and hesitation will arise, and if we are hesitant, in the case of trying to jump a fence, our horse senses this and will avoid the fence or come to a complete halt before jumping and (if the rider isn’t situated properly on the horse, or squeezing tightly with their legs) the rider will soar off the horse. This is not the horse’s fault. This is a nervous rider who didn’t give themselves fully to the jump or didn’t approach the fence properly, in other words, not being prepared.
By the time I became more comfortable, understood and applied with the skills needed, and Flossie trusted I would approach the fence properly for our success, the nerves were held at bay, kept in their place, and in fact, a feeling of great anticipation superseded any doubt.
And it is in the landing after soaring with your horse successfully over the fence, a feeling of internal exhilaration that was unmatched by anything I had experienced during my childhood, that I unconsciously began becoming a person who realized that unknowns need not be so frightening so long as we are prepared. But it took time to reach this realization, the proper support and guidance by a teacher who knew how to guide me (woman seen on the left in the photo) and correct me when I wasn’t doing something as I needed to, support from my mother who would drive us (Flossie and myself) to jumping practice (seen in the photo to the right in the coat), and then a genuine love for what I was doing.
Life, the beautiful, unique life journey that can be ours, requires much of the same approach.
We need to choose to accept that we will never know the outcome that awaits to greet us on the other side of our trying, but with the skills that will be necessary – choosing to learn them and hone them and keep them toned, when we are following where our curiosity draws us, and keep along this path, a path that energizes us each day in its own way rather than drains us because we have prepared our mind, knowing how it works, an amazing unfolding of life will reveal itself.
As you begin this week and continue forward into 2024, keep in mind that while we cannot know how our efforts invested will unfold into the success that will come in the future, so long as you prepare yourself – mind and heart, savor the journey and eventually the arrival will be yours to savor.