Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is Fear A Gift?

One time I heard a security specialist say that it was. Those hairs standing up on the back of your neck are to be paid attention to. In terms of horsemanship, Parelli has always said that the moment you think about needing to get off your horse, you should. Don't ignore the feeling of dread in your stomach or the warning voice in your head.

Healthy fear is a pre incident indicator. It can help us avoid many a sticky wicket, dangerous event or the shattering of trust and confidence in ourselves. Just as we need to respect our horse's prey animal self preservation instincts, we need to respect ours.

BUT....there does come a time to take a leap of faith and to be brave. If we've done our prior and proper preparation, we've got to push the envelope a little more. Otherwise we don't progress.
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Over the last month Nigel has felt so solid and trustworthy that I've been taking the bridle off. Of course, he and I have done our preparation. Making sure we have our yields to level 4...(Or at least 3++) However, I am very aware that even in the very best of circumstances, and on the most confident horse...things can happen. My horse could trip, a flock of quail could fly up and crash into my coverall, even an earthquake or a tree falling could spook my prey animal. And the reality is that it should.

One of the things I think about a lot and strive for in my life is balance. When do I plan for the future and when do I live as if today is my last day? How do I live in the moment with my horse and still have ambition? When do I listen to my fear and when do I tune it out to plunge forwards?

I don't have the answer. I suppose there really isn't one. I just have to do the best I can to feel it out. FDR said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. My husband Kip says fear is not a gift..but caution is.
I think that it depends on how you look at it. The natural self preservation and will to live in all of us is a gift and confidence is a precious thing. Fear is important feedback about our circumstances and surroundings, giving us information on how to proceed. It is often governed by a powerful cocktail of subconscious and conscious data. I guess the key is to acknowledge it, respect it and yet not let it govern us unmitigated.

I suppose in life we have to take risks. Driving our cars down the freeway, swimming on vacation in Hawaii, or spinach from the grocery store can kill us. My friend Beth mentioned the other day that sometimes we've just gotta man up, roll the dice and accept the risk. Particularly if the circumstances are as good as they're going to get. We have to make the choice to move forward even at the risk of life and limb or stand still to keep the illusion of safety. So I've been taking the bridle off...and the feeling has been amazing.

I think maybe that is one of the most special qualities about a relationship between a horse and a human. Its an extraordinary mix of instinct, logic and spirit. Each individual causing the other to think more or feel more in order to progress. I think fear IS a gift and I'll take it.... especially because I have more experience with my horse and horsemanship helping me stay brave and in balance.

The Risk To Bloom

And then the day came
when the risk to remain
tight in a bud
was more painful than the
risk to bloom

-Anais Nin

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