Drop the Reins

Bronze Sculpture, Cave Hill Cemetery.  Unknown artist.

"For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause..."
~William Shakespeare, Hamlet

There is a term in the horse world called, "Giving a horse its head".  It means to loosen up entirely on the reins so that the horse can use its head in a full gallop.  In the racing world, it is a calculated moment in the race when that actually happens, not too soon so they wear out before their mile/furlong+ is finished, not too late so that they can't catch whomever they need to overtake.  To watch it happen is sublime and sends chills up my spine when I can see the precise moment occur in a race.  The horse, in that moment, is doing what it was born to do and is doing it with utter joy and abandon.

About 11 years ago, I was in St. Croix with my family on a vacation that still ranks in my Top 5 All Time Favorite Destinations in the World.  My dad helped fulfill a dream of mine to go horseback riding on the beach.  I love to ride and don't get the opportunity very often.  The proprietor there was an Irish gentleman with a thick brogue and a leathery red face from too much sun and too much rum.  As he was orienting me on my horse, he reminded me, "Keep your heels down and just don't drop the reins, whatever you do."  After a few miles of beach, he turned us toward the mountains there on the island.  As we began to climb, the trail wound up and up.  He stopped in a clearing and turned to me, obviously satisfied I wasn't going to fall off and kill myself and said, "Go ahead.  Drop the reins."  

"Drop the reins?!"  

"Aye, lass.  Drop the reins, then."  His mouth curved in a mischievous grin, I swallowed hard, and dropped the reins.  The rocket of a horse launched up the mountain.  My hands wound in her mane, my heels dropped down in the stirrups, my knees bent, all wrapped around her I held on for dear life with her head pumping deeper and faster as my arms extended forward and back in time.   Up and up we climbed at a speed that I was sure was going to throw me off of the side of that mountain.  When we arrived at the top, she stopped, barely breathing hard, me panting and war whooping, heart pounding, adrenaline coursing through my veins feeling like King Kong on cocaine, and a ridiculously stupid grin plastered across my face.  I have never felt as joyful and alive and in awe as I turned the 360 degrees to look out over all of the gorgeous, lush island and surrounding turquoise blue waters, sparkling with the sun.  It was magic.

Mental note; drop the reins.

Every year, it seems, (but particularly this year) has been a professional exercise in me fighting the proverbial bit in my mouth.  Ideas and plans are pulled up short by budgets or other brick resource walls.  It feels like I am eternally champing at that blasted bit, selling an idea to try and drag folks forward to my vision, their heels dug in and fighting every step of the way until we finally arrive bloody and embattled, where they all sigh and say, "Ohhhhhhh.  I get it now."  I understand that there are obstacles everywhere,  I understand I will face them forever, no matter what I do.  However I am ready to face those obstacles unencumbered, doing what I was born to do.  Give me my head.  Its time to drop these f*cking reins.

I am claiming 2014.  Big changes are coming in my life.  I am about to be highly uncomfortable, frequently out of my depth, and constantly challenged.  I can't wait.  I am so ready.

Happy New Year, loves.

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  1. I am bawling my ever-loving eyes out! How vivid and beautifully written and g-d inspiring! I love you!!!!!