John Stillwell Blog
Pain and Fear/Feeding Loves Desire
Pain and fear, fear of pain. Several years ago I took a bad fall off of my mare Sheeba. It was early in my horseback riding experience with my daughter Serena.
Ages ago when I was a young man I lived for a short time in New Mexico. While there I learned to ride horses for the first time. I rode like the wind and did things on horses that are duplicated possibly no place else in the universe. Being on a good horse and zooming through time and space as only a horse and rider can. In those days I experienced a oneness with the horse. I had absolutely no sense of fear when I was in the saddle.
But I took Sheeba out one day when my wife Cathy and Serena had gone on some errand. I thought to myself ‘I’m going to take her out and see what we can do.’ When I saddled Sheeba up I didn’t pay sufficient attention to re tightening the girth that holds the saddle onto the horse. So out in the desert far from home as I was galloping into a turn I put pressure on my right sturrup; if the cinch had been set correctly everything would have been perfect. I would have completed that turn with Sheeba and ridden away into a completely different kind of horse and rider experience than the one that started right there. As my body shifted weight into the stirrup the stirrup gave way as the saddle began to slide sideways off the horses back. In a matter of a second or a second and a half I had to make the decision as to how I was going to hit the ground. I landed on my right side - most heavily on my right hip and when I did I messed my hip up good. Then I had the wonderful experience of being out in the middle of nowhere watching a horse galloping away as fast as she can run. By this time the saddle is completely underneath her and she’s scared because that's not where a saddle is supposed to be and she’s heading for home which her internal compass tells her is somewhere far away.
So I’m there picking myself up and testing my hip and thinking I’m in the desert and I’ve got a seriously injured, perhaps broken hip, and no cell phone so I’m going to have to walk or crawl my way out of there. What would you believe could happen under a circumstance like that? Well I’ll tell you. I limped over to a road and started towards home when a car drove right up and stopped. Inside the car were two very nice ladies who were looking for a piece of property which happened to be right across the street from my little house. They were happy to take directions having been lost previously in a maze of dirt roads and they gave me a ride over to my house.
The upstart of all this was that I could never get on a horse again without a sense of foreboding and fear. This was something I had never experienced before. I healed up and rode with my daughter for another several years but never again was I able to get in that space where I was on a galloping horses back and that horse was running as fast as it could over everything and anything and I was one with the horse. Instead I was able to experience something that I had not anticipated - that something was an intimate relationship with fear. It also gave me the opportunity to spend three years in my yoga practice working my hip back into a condition where it feels normal to be walking without being worried about the hip going out or my hitting a spot where the pain just throws a lightning bolt through my whole body.
Experiencing and learning about fear, I feel, was more important at this juncture in my life than the more adolescent experience of playing with a horse. It also worked well in another way because my daughter Serena was not the type who was going to let a horse run its heart out while she was in the saddle - it's not an experience that is for everyone.
I learned, as we all do, from this experience that I encounter on the road of life. Some experiences are quite pleasurable. Others at a certain stage in the journey - the early, rocky ascent out of drowsiness into awareness - are often difficult. After this stage it seems that the experiential territory levels out and you have beneath your metaphorical feet a firm sense of the truth: of the justice, love, abundance, fecundity. A clear sense of the god-self that we are a part of. And an intimate relationship develops between us and our experiences. A relationship that is closer than that between mother and son, closer than that between father and daughter and husband and wife. There, in that space, we rock in the cradle, secure once again in the arms of the divine mother that brings to birth worlds, suns, souls. A sun soul, a shining soul, a bright and loving and warm soul. Searing in intensity at times - such is the nature of brightness. Love always there, always ready to give life under any circumstance. The experience of mind is just one of those lovely petals on the flower of life. The experience of mind, to take that soul light and embody it in a human form on a planet under a sun. To watch it grow and see material life through the eyes of an inhabitant, through the eyes of a traveler. A traveler reflecting back all that is seen and experienced and done. Feeding loves desire.