People here have their dogs to bark at people who walk by. They are mostly outside, just animals. Not inside cuddling, eating organic dog food. Showing up on stories in their strange belly-up positions. They have a big bag of Kibble poured into a large trash bin and they get a scoop every day and that’s it. Maybe sometimes they get a pat on the head and a ‘good boy’.
There is still a bell to ring in orders at this restaurant. The ceiling is leaking into a bucket that takes up a seat at the bar and no one seems to mind.
Going to bed at 9pm makes it easier to get up at 6 when the light is first coming in.
I went on a hike with Jesus this morning. A random trail took me to an outdoor church and another trail took me to the top of a hill where Jesus was carved into a cross looking out over the town. Places that have the least believe in god the most. Then had breakfast with some retired cowboys and listened to them tease the female waitress about being too slow and not caring about them while she replied with something snappy and witty so they could then say, “Oh that Brenda is a tough old gal,” and all have a laugh about it.
I wonder what factors contribute to the evolution of thought and consciousness. In the cities you are filled with so many different forms of information that stimulate thought and debate and allow conversations to move at rapid rates. In the country the information sources are limited and it seems as though people will sit around the table and have the same conversation day after day. Someone’s health is bad – the weatherman said sun but there are clouds in the sky – the coffee is strong this morning – The Lancaster’s lost their pup last night to a coyote (pronounced Kigh-Yote) – and so on.
Perhaps I am stereotyping. But I’m taking fairly rigorous notes and I haven’t found any of this to be at all exaggerated.
Sorry, a tractor just drove by on the freeway.
There are signs on the door that say, “EAT BEEF – the west wasn’t won on salad”. And people will look at that and have a good chuckle and think of all the flimsies eating vegetables and look down on them even though the last seven generations of their own family have died from cancer or heart attack. I suppose it’s better to be a man than to change.
All that said, I really like it here. It is quiet. There’s nothing to do. So everything becomes a big production. Walking to breakfast was the highlight of my morning. It was next door. Later, I’m going to walk to The Dollar General to peruse the aisles and see if there is anything I can eat later as a snack. That’s another hour down.
I don’t even feel much like writing. I don’t want anything to do with screens. I would rather stare at the mountains and the sky and listen to the hiss of the window a/c unit next to me. Up until now I have been doing my normal writing in my journal and also taking trip-specific notes on my laptop. I’m going to go full journal and type out later, when I’m back in the city and not concerned with my eyeballs or well-being.
There is only one place I can get wifi here and that is at a picnic table outside of the motel office.
I have a lot to learn when it comes to riding horses. The walk and the trot are no problem but when we get into cantering there are moments when I feel like I am not in control. My right stirrup was lower than my left yesterday and I didn’t realize it until we were flying down the trail. I had to compensate by leaning left while also trying to maintain the reigns and not fall on my face. Oh, and breathe. The horses like it when you breathe. That way they know you’re stable and not going to run them into a tree.
There was a moment, though, when Lance and I were in a good run and it felt like I was gliding through a zero-gravity chamber. I weighed nothing and we were flying. The rhythm was so clean I was forced into presence. And then I almost fell off because he took a side step while I was being a zen master cowboy.
Colleen says she usually only lets horseman ride Lance. But she thought I could handle him. I like when people say that kinda thing about me because it means I am special and potentially one day will wake up and realize I can move spoons across the table with my mind.
The reality is that I am often scared when it matters most. I am scared when Alexis thinks there’s a bear outside our tent in Yosemite. I am scared when the racist in the old white pickup yells at the Muslim girl crossing the street. And I am scared when my horse takes off to run and I don’t know how I’m supposed to ride him. I have all of these brave thoughts in my head about the way I will act in moments that require courage but very often the reality has me standing their holding my tongue.
There’s a certain barrier around freedom. Stepping out and doing something unexpected is like being blind for a moment. And once you step out on that ledge there is no way to know what is going to happen.
I want to scream and I want to cry. Those are the two most pervasive actions I have building up inside of me. But what I will most likely do is keep my composure and stay within the lines of expectation.
Because I am a city boy in the country I am going to watch YouTube videos on how to properly canter on a horse so I am more prepared for my lessons today.
Tomorrow I meet Buddy, and I am most excited about that.
I am back at the family diner. It feels different this time. More familiar. The old people in overalls are interchangeable but necessary at this point. My eggs and bacon were great with the buttered sourdough toast. The table behind me is filled with farmers and cowboys talking about their hayday.
The buildings here are all boarded up. People are waiting for jobs to “come back”. This is Trump country. They don’t realize that life doesn’t come back, it just keeps changing and doesn’t care if you come along or not. And if you don’t evolve with it then you will end up an old man in a town where there is only one restaurant and the second best option for food is The Dollar General.
I am just back from a four hour session with the therapy horses, Colleen, and a very odd horselady named Kim.
I’m not sure exactly how to describe it.
I am walking a fine line between fantasy and reality and I don’t want to come off as someone who has lost their gd mind.
Kim was walking on all fours and rubbing her head against the horses bodies. I couldn’t stop wondering if she knew we could actually see her. I would never do something like that around other people. Only a kid would. And Kim.
Three separate horses walked up to me and put their foreheads on my heart and rubbed their heads up and down. Not in the aggressive way they do when they are itching after removing their fly masks. This was gentle. Thoughtful. One of them walked away and rolled in the dirt and began running around in the grass. If you read the initial setup piece for this series then you know the significance of the horses putting their heads where they did.
I learned how to halter them, walk them, run them, and get them to walk circles in different directions just by holding out my arms.
I look over and Kim is suddenly freaking out. Closing her eyes, rubbing her head, and pacing back and forth.
“You just locked in with him and he did with you too. I just saw a swirl magenta – I don’t know, it looked like electricity – come out of your chest and into his eyes. I’ve never seen colors before. They are all around you right now. This is totally crazy.”
And if she’s calling something crazy then I’m inclined to believe it.
I told them I don’t want to hear too much more about the energy world. I wasn’t denying its merits but wanted to stick to the observations that could help shed light as to why I was suffering inside.
The real reason I avoid social situations isn’t because I’m a super introvert. I love people. It’s because I cannot control myself from feeling what everyone in a room is feeling and the pressure to modify all of their experiences so they aren’t suffering is overwhelming.
The horse I was drawn to was named Hawk. He was a bit of a loner. Rebellious. Quiet. But sweet-hearted. We stared at each other for a few minutes. Just standing there looking back and forth while Kim apparently watched a scene from X-Men.
It seems as though things are only worth the value you associate them with and truth is designed to fit within our agenda. Their heads on my heart could mean they were trying to break up the black rock in my chest or it could just mean that they were itchy from the fly mask. The same duality can be applied to every situation we encounter. I know which story I’d like to believe.
I feel tender towards these animals, just like Woody.
Colleen said she wanted to give me her late husband’s eagle feather to hold onto while I was here. She has never done that before. She said he called to her and asked how he could help this young man standing in front of her.
I tried to halter Hawk for 30 minutes. Colleen told me to be honest and vulnerable with him. I tried. I would get close, pet his head, and he would walk away 10 feet and then turn around and look at me like, are you gonna be real or what?
At some point it felt forced and I told Colleen I didn’t want to feel like I had an objective with him because Hawk felt like he was me and I would hate what was happening if it were me. Another horse then walked up to me and I put the halter on him without argument.
I worked a few horses and eventually I had a different walk. Colleen and Kim asked what was going on. I said I felt like a cowboy. They both started laughing and said I was walking like one. They took video and when I watched it I started laughing because I could barely recognize myself with the wide gait.
I need to go buy a proper cowboy hat. And some sunscreen.
I’m back at Yarnell Family Diner for the third time today. Doing an extensive tour of their menu.
Things you text your wife while in Yarnell, ” Hey, our ride got rained out so I’m gonna walk down to the diner for all-you-can eat fish fry Fridays.”
It’s a riot here though. A guy playing the banjo. Tables of past generations drinking wine talking about wind and kayaks.
I was pretty disappointed that our ride was rained out. All of this treatment is nice but it’s the movement that I need. It’s not the words or the mindset, it’s moving and feeling free and connecting with an animal that was born to be free. But there was a lot of lightning. And Colleen didn’t feel safe. I would have gone in a heartbeat.
I am quite tired. I’m gonna try to take photos tomorrow AM while Colleen feeds her horses. I was able to get a discount on this trip by offering my photography services. Then we head down to Billy’s ranch.
I asked Kim how empaths are supposed to make a living. She said, “You just do. Money is it’s own energy and it’ll find you when you need it.”
It’s an energy that has power over the entire world and causes us to live in fear, far removed from what’s in our heart.
I am realizing on this trip that I need to offload more of my work to Todd and possibly hire another assistant so I can spend more time with horses.
I will come back here with Alexis at some point. Maybe the winter. Colleen says February is best. But that means it will be busy. She said we could do a week together.
Time apart is important. When I’m inspired I treat everyone better.