I have been gone a long time, nearly two years. One of my last posts regarded horse-back riding, which is what has kept me from nearly every other endeavor I have attempted over the past three years. Not only have I fallen in love with horse back riding, but the cost and time involved in committing to this hobby means that I have nothing left for any other.
It is that myopic.
In fact, of all the women I know who ride, I know of not one who has another hobby. Seriously. They ride. They live for it. They come out daily and care for their horses, tack them up, ride them and care for them more. It is expensive to the max. It takes hours a day. It is a full-time hobby that leaves you simultaneously, breathlessly happy, invigorated, exhausted, frustrated, re-invigorated and dumbfounded.
I can't believe I've done it, consistently, for three years. What I have learned could fill a book. It would, however, be a book only interesting to anyone who rides, so I won't fill this blog with all of the details, anecdotes and woes of the riding life. I will only say that the entire endeavor of 52 Figs has been worth it…if only for the riding.
But we are now leaving this small southern town, with all of its charm, muggy summer heat, friendly Wal-Mart workers (who call me 'baby girl') and endless hours of devoted horse trails.
I am torn. Do I ride in our new place? Or do I look back at my list and begin to think again of the rest of my Figs and slowly begin, one at a time, to embrace new experiences?
I am tempted in both directions. On the one hand, the horses are lovely. They are familiar. They clear my head and take me out of my mind, and if I need something in life, it's that.
On the other hand, they are (as noted) expensive and time consuming. The horse world is both big and small. It's big in size, but it's small in terms of much else. Most riders ride. That's what they do. For them, it's enough. I have to ask myself: is it enough for me? Because I can't devote several hours a day, several days a week to riding and get much of anything else done, including (apparently) cleaning my bathrooms or writing my long-over-due novel.
I feel the answer is very clear and very difficult to commit to, the answer being (of course) to set aside a bit of time from horses and try new things. I know, intellectually, that I can come back to the horses. I know what I will find if I continue riding, and while I love the idea of what lies ahead on that well-ridden path, I don't know what lies ahead on the others. I had no idea at all that I would end up loving horses, that I would make life-long friends, that I would learn more about myself and my 'issues' astride an enormous German warmblood than I have through any other experience in life with the exception, perhaps, of motherhood.
So, as we pack up our home, enroll our kids in public school and head north, I will say a fond and hopefully brief farewell to horses and look forward to the year ahead, during which I embark upon many new, unexpected adventures. I have learned, through this whole 52 Figs, that what I thought might matter the most didn't (buying a luxury item and using it with abandon) and what I thought would be a fleeting, three-week endeavor (riding a horse at a solid gallop) wasn't fleeting at all.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is this one from Zora Neale Hurston:
Isn't it true? I feel that my years here in North Carolina have been years that answered. I feel that life has shifted in many ways during these three years, from having little kids to having grade-school-aged kids, from being at home most of my day to being outside most of my day, from wearing skirts and ballet flats to wearing breeches and boots. I feel more confident now than I did when I came here, and that is a new feeling for me. I typically leave a place with feelings of apprehension, confusion, sadness and fear. But these years have been good years, and while I definitely feel apprehensive and sad, I don't feel any fear.
It feels like the right moment to look for questions.
With that….I'll be blogging again. Part of the joy of this journey (that word has forever been tainted for me as a regular viewer of The Bachelor) has been writing about it, reading about it and letting it all sink in through this blog.