I see a woman riding a horse through the village. She has incredible concentration as the horse gallops down the narrow street. I can’t help thinking how impressive it is to have such direction, such focus to get to a destination rather than being prepared to get there someday, eventually, at some point in the future. I turn my horse and follow and call out to her.
Sister, where are you going?
She laughs and looks over her shoulder and calls back to me as she pulls into the distance and I cannot keep up.
I have no idea but it must be a wonderful place. You’d have to ask the horse.
Some days we are in awe of the people around us who are so driven. Other days we are propelled by life and can only just barely hang on to the reigns. And some days we are the horse, who remembers and is focused so thoroughly on the destination that we run and take our riders along with us. But we forget in our attention to being one of these things that we are always embodying them all, all at the same time.
I have overwhelming focus. I am obsessed. I can’t stop paying attention to this one thing, something I think so so unbelievably important. My friends are tired of hearing about my new project. Or I just need one new thing before I am happy. One final experience before my summer vacation is complete. One last piece of the puzzle before I feel like I can be happy.
I am experiencing life in panic. I am holding on as my days are not my own choice but I go to work, go to school, fulfill my responsibilities and fall into bed late at night without a single moment left of energy to keep my eyes open even to read a few pages before I fall asleep. I am running the maze that I’ve made for myself or, perhaps even more frighteningly, that I’ve let society dictate for me without questioning it. I follow the goals and the dreams toward a partner, children, a bigger house, a new car, fancy purses and shoes and hats. I forget to question it and I don’t even ask where the path is leading. I’m just holding on.
And I am the curious bystander in my own life, wondering what the rush is and what wonderful place my horse-self is taking my rider-self to with such concentration and I hold onto the reigns for dear life with a sense of abandon mixed with dread and submission mixed with fatalism. And I do the one thing I had forgotten to do all along. I ask where I’m going. Where the other me is headed. And I ask why.
But there’s a me missing. Where is the me who stops and breathes before taking off in the same old direction looking for the goal to ask, isn’t it the path and not the destination that is important? If I’m going to live this life and the end result is already known for my body, that it’s going to stop being mine and return to the earth, it can’t be the destination that matters, can it? So why am I so focused on getting there to the point that I miss the scenery as I gallop into the distance, leaving myself grabbing on or falling behind? Where is the me who calmly asks why I’m on the horse in the first place instead of sitting under that beautiful sun and looking at the flower just out of reach of my hand? What am I doing being dragged along without even asking where I’m headed or why? I’m following blindly and it is ridiculous but I never thought to get off. And where is the me who tells my curious self the answers are obvious, don’t be in awe of the one who runs blindly though life, who abandons the moment and focuses only on the future, especially a future that I’m not even trying to create, just to follow wherever someone else is leading?
I may be all of these things all the time but unless I ask the questions, I will be lost to the moment. I will be living the dreams of the past as the horse gallops into memory and obsession. I will be blind to the experience of my body and life in the present as I hold on and get dragged through my days by the environment and the culture around me. And I will be shocked and consumed by the drive and focus and abandon of those around me and forget that I am living right now, making choices and I don’t have to follow the runaway horse and rider, I am on a path of my own and walking it is my life.