Monday, November 21, 2011

Epiphany


I did have an epiphany this past Friday which I think might end up changing my life in immeasurable ways. A good friend of mine had an incident of his own on Friday which was also life changing and in a far more dramatic way. He had the beginnings of a heart attack. Luckily, he realized what was happening, dialed 911 himself, and was just two blocks from the best Cardiology Hospital in Illinois. He had one stint inserted that morning and is due to have two more in the next two weeks but he was back to posting on Facebook by that afternoon and out of the hospital the next day. He is naturally very introspective at the moment. He posted a quote from Anne Morrow Lindburgh today, "When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern. The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides."

It is a beautiful and thought provoking quote and I especially liked the phrase, "lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. I'm discovering that this is true of life in general. Those friends who have know me for any time at all know that I have developed a fear of riding which had become both unreasonable and almost uncontrollable. The worst part of the fear and anxiety was that it had become emotionally paralyzing and was keeping me not only from riding but living my life. It wasn't a fear of horses that kept me out of the saddle or even anxiety left over from the bad fall I took six years ago. I think I've been living in fear because of various crazy accidents that I've had in my past because it wasn't just riding I was fearful of, it was anything which involved the least bit of risk. Before I did anything, I'd imagine every possible thing which could go wrong. Huston told me once that things could just as easily go right as wrong but I never saw it that way. The fear was actually keeping me prisoner in my own home because I'd also become very fearful of driving especially on the interstate.  

Oddly, it was on the interstate this past Friday, where I had my epiphany.  I was thinking about a friend who'd had an accident very similar to one I'd had or at least nearly had several years ago. I was in the car, in traffic, on the interstate bridge between Loudon and Lenoir City, when a tire blew. It lifted the front of my car straight up in the air and spun me around on the interstate bridge until I was facing the wrong direction. This happened right at rush hour when all of the workers from Oak Ridge filled the highway. It also occurred in the exact location where my friend had an accident which didn't have the same lucky results that mine did since I was miraculously able to get turned around and to the side of the road before the traffic..which had oddly cleared just as the tire blew...was suddenly zooming by me again. My friend's accident resulted in serious injuries and I was unharmed. I suddenly realized on Friday that despite that near miss and all of the weird accidents I've had over the years that should have resulted in serious injury if not death, I've remained virtually unscathed except for the residual fear. I had this revelation while driving to a friend's barn with the intention of riding a horse for the first time in two years. I'd tried to ride my horse, Django, a week before and I froze as I stood on the mounting block and couldn't get into the saddle. When I got to Brandy's barn, she was bringing in the horse she wanted me to ride. She helped me tack her up and then held my stirrup for me to mount. I didn't hesitate; I got on the horse and I rode without the slightest fear or nervousness. I walked her a short while and then kicked her into a trot. Brandy who is not just my friend but long time riding instructor was amazed and told me as much, saying that I didn't look the least fearful or even nervous.  I told her that I wasn't. I was relaxed and thoroughly enjoying myself. I had realized that, like the John F. Kennedy said, I had nothing to fear but fear itself.  I truly feel like a new person. So, I think that living a full life "lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now." That is true of life or love or horseback riding.

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