Of the four horses in the field next door, Shadow is the free-spirited one, the least predictable, the renegade. I have spent many hours pouring my heart out to these horses, but Shadow has risen to the status of teacher and soul mate through the split rail fence.
I once glimpsed the breathtaking sight of him galloping at full speed around the field in the pouring rain, exhilarated and joyous, both of us.
After his victory lap, he stopped short and reared up on his hind legs, kicking toward the sky.
For the encore, he rolled on his back from side to side until he was caked with mud and thoroughly covered with delight.
Last night, just as the sun retired over the mountain and the clouds colored themselves in orange and pink, the horses came up over the ridge to graze. As I cooked dinner, I kept an eye on them, marveling, mesmerized by the gift of their beauty.
I saw Shadow throw his head back—a sign that he might run—so I left my pot and went to the window in time to see him take off down the hill and out of sight ...
... then gallop back up the hill on my side of the fence. He was free!
Oh how many days I have balanced on top of that split rail fence, aching to jump over and stand next to Shadow with no barrier between us. A fence and an invisible property line held me at bay. Now here was my giant friend, walking proudly up to my house to see me!
Before I drove over to tell his owner of the escape, I busted out of my own door, barefoot, and ran to meet him. We danced around and laughed on the open field together. Carrots were shared in celebration. It was a delicious, impromptu, juicy moment of spirited freedom.
Perhaps the word spirited has gotten a bad rap. After all, it means: enthusiastic (literally, “God within”), full of energy, determined.
I want some of that. To be spirited.
I have been in survival mode for so long that I have all but forgotten this passionate feeling of freedom; arms up, face to the sky.
All too often I fence myself in to a status quo; I do what I am accustomed to doing, graze where I should, allow myself to be contained by property lines of habit, fear, pain or imagination.
I'm a little out of practice, but Shadow's jailbreak has me thinking.
Maybe it's time to remember that I have the soul of an unlimited free-spirit.
Maybe it's time to decide I am going to wake with joy and enthusiasm each morning and treat myself to simple delights that awaken my soul.
Maybe it's time to put the spirit back in spirited and respond to my heart when she reminds me who I am and who I might become.
Maybe it's time to bust out of my field of habit and sail over the split rail fence of new beginnings.
Maybe it's time to run in the rain.
In The World:
Next time delight pulls you out of your comfort zone and towards unchartered territory, keep an open heart. When you are closing in on the fence, and catch a glimpse of your higher, happier self on the other side, remember the value of your own dreams, the importance of your own fulfillment. And just jump. For joy.
It's easy to lose sight of joy as a spiritual practice. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, and carve out a few moments a day for something delightful, joyful, playful. Just for you, just because.
In The Heart:
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. —Rumi