A week ago today, I was riding across the rocky hills of Texas on a beautiful Appaloosa mare named Dee Dee. The sky was wide and endless. The cypress-lined vistas were peaceful. Dee Dee was a sweet and steady girl. I grew up riding horses, even competitively. Still, it had been at least 30 years since I’d been on a horse. I wondered if I’d remember what to do. But the moment I climbed into that saddle, it all came back to me. The southern plains swelled up in my heart again. I haven’t felt that happy or free in long time.
The occasion for my trip to Texas was to visit my dear friend Wally in San Antonio. Wally had noticed a good deal on airfare and offered to fly me to San Antonio as an early birthday present. She thought I needed a break from Seattle and she was right. I gratefully accepted her generous gift. Wally and I have been close friends since middle school and spent our formative years getting into all kinds of trouble together. Throughout the visit, we had a running joke about getting into bar fights. We wore cowboy hats and took ridiculous selfies. We reminisced about days long gone and swapped stories about our respective journeys through midlife. We ate a lot of guacamole. There is ease in being with an old friend like Wally. They know your life and you’re in their heart forever. There is nothing more liberating than being loved for who you are.
In her book “The Desire Map,” Danielle LaPorte proposes that instead of thinking about our lives in terms of goals and accomplishments, to think of them in terms of how we want to feel. It’s a radical concept that certainly flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught about what it means to be successful. The idea is to identify our core desired feelings and then allow them to guide the choices we make in our lives.
Freedom is consistently at the top of my list of core desired feelings.
Freedom is the ultimate expansion. For me, it means not being bound by dubious obligations, other people’s timetables and relentless expectations, the latter of which are often self-imposed. It’s the absence of muck and pretense. It’s doing what I want. I believe that freedom is requisite to creativity. We can’t create when we’re contracted and tangled up. It’s like putting a fence around the mind and a straightjacket on the soul. There’s heaviness there, tightness. Freedom lets the mind take a load off and allows inspiration to loosen, spark and flow. Unfettered, we can play in our own magic and make incredible things happen.
In my day to day, I grind pretty hard and if I allow intention to wander off, I can slip into worried mind. I am capable of ruminating about anything: work, the kids, cash flow, car repairs and even getting my damn carpets cleaned. It’s like flailing around in a tiny box. I can produce from this place but it’s not the same as creating. My blissful time with Dee Dee and Wally (and Wally’s horse Laramie) slowed it all down and broadened my perspective. Underneath that enormous Texas sky, I let go of everything and I was finally free.
I’m back in Seattle now. The lesson learned from my time in Texas is this: If I’m brave, I can unshackle at any time. We all can. Freedom is a state of mind. It’s also a choice.