A few weeks ago, I was on the west coast chasing horses. It was a dream; a magical and inspired adventure. I made new friends, I fell in love with photography as an art, and more than that... these horses. This was on private land, and they're given hay, and checked on often. But they're as wild as they can be; in a world that hunts them down by helicopter and pushes for their euthanizing. It makes me all the more grateful for rescue groups like Return to Freedom who hosted me for this photo tour.
I went out there because I am writing about the free spirit itself: the untamed, free-willed, creative magic, within all of us (though I'm writing for women). I write about the symbolism; the shamanic inspiration and medicine that these beautiful animals give us. I dreamt of them for weeks. I had a vision of two horses; one black and one white, and they showed me the simplest truths about Life. I wrote it all down, and of course it'll be in the book.
Out there, in California, we rode in a safari buggy (I forgot what they called the vehicle) and had a picnic lunch in the hills of San Luis Obispo... so it definitely wasn't jumping out of pickup trucks in the wilds of the Sierra Nevadas... but there were sacred moments, to be sure. With the animals. Inspired, beautiful, connected moments.
It was hard, for me, in general, to think about. Something so majestic, fast, intelligent, and wild... rounded up and put behind fences. For us to gawk at. When they were once so unbridled and free. I apologized for my species, mentally, as we approached them. And I asked each one for permission, with gratitude, as I took their picture. One of them will be on the cover of my book; I'm grateful that one of my new friend yelled "stop," as he spotted the great scene on top of the hill. And we all got busy snapping photos. It was a surreal and moving experience and was the perfect culmination to a year of exploration and seeking wildness. And while all my previous travels were planned and calculated, this last trip... was last minute and unplanned, which added an extra dash of magic to it.
But as with any journey, it came to an end. I found myself back in routine, back behind a desk, coming down with a virus, tending to a sick child, and my whole world slowed down and became obligation after obligation, once again. And this happens, for those of us who juggle their wild with pieces of family life and steady income. I had all but forgotten the wonder that I was so lucky to experience. Just a few weeks ago.
It was time to sit my ass down: to fine-tune, tweak, and edit Wild Horses & Mistakes. I had everything I needed... I just wasn't ready for it to be over. When I woke each morning, I'd be walking out of the mist from some dusty mountain pass, with dirt on my knees, wind tangling my hair, sun in my eyes, hawks circling overhead, and horses... running free. Stopping for just a moment, to throw me a glance. So, I wouldn't forget. And I haven't and I don't believe that I ever will. It was an experience that changed me and expanded my art. It pushed out my edges. I vowed to buy a new camera, with the right lenses, and I was already planning a trip to find some wolves upstate, and there would be more horses. Perhaps next year, I'd be one of the ones jumping out of pickup trucks to capture their real magic. I felt on fire, inspired, alive with art and creation and hope and the sheer awe of nature and wildness. But as the mundane routines churned on, the wildness waned. As it does.
So, instead of knuckling down and finishing this book, I let the allure of shiny things pull me away for a while, because it meant creating. So, I poured myself into a side project, for days, uploading, rearranging, fine-tuning, creating, writing. Making. Making something new. Being that I have laryngitis and can't sing... web-building was my next best thing. And when it was done, this little in-between thing, I saw the pages staring at me again. Finish me...
It's never easy putting a project to bed, changing gears from wild creativity to honed seriousness and minutiae. Shifting back into the narrow boxes of ego and planning and strategy and business. It's just not easy for me, but I know it's a necessity... in order to set this project free. And it will do more good out there, then stuck in this old laptop.
I look out and see the others, my kindred, the seekers, those in wanderlust: traveling, experiencing, being, doing, sharing...and I find the inspiration to dive back in. To make real my experience, through my words. It was a gift to witness these horses and I do plan to make it a more common experience... with wildlife and natural spaces, in general. That which we focus on...grows. I am a conservationist, and I'm trying to be diligent about where my energy goes.
I'd been wriggling around trying to figure out how to encapsulate and stretch that feeling, that wildness, that wonder. And the answer was so simple that I overlooked it. The answer was art. It's why we paint, draw, write, sing, dance, shoot photos, or create anything... to capture moments and stretch them out. To take that wildness, that rawness, with us. So we don't forget.
So, stay creative, out there. Stay wild. xoxo