Questions buzz around my ears like biting blackflies and doubts sting my confidence.
I've been here before, after all, standing here at the crossroads where paths converge and possibilities merge. Where devils play fiddles and fairies play tricks.
I'm not good at picking paths. Oh, I know the general direction I want to go in, and I know where I'd like to end up. But finding the road to take me there... that is more difficult. What if I get lost? What if the road is overgrown with weeds or falls to rock or turns to mud and I am left to flounder?
Because I've been there, too.
So I stand still and I think and I think and I think and I feel my courage fading bit by bit until all I really want to do is flee back to familiar ground.
And then I walk to the horse pasture in the first light of day, when the air is pink and gold and sweet as peaches. When dew sparkles on every blade of grass and silvers the cobwebs laced between the fence rails. Birds sing in the trees and in the distance a deer leaps the hedge and bounds away.
They come to greet me at the gate: Brisa, with her pricked ears and bold eyes and delicate muzzle; Ranger all quicksilver energy and motion and light; and Gypsy, my spirit horse. Sister of my soul. They eat carrots from my hands, these wild horses, and Brisa licks the salt from my palms. I rub the whorls on their foreheads and trace the white line of an old scar on Gypsy's. I brush flies away and run my hands down legs as straight and strong as truth, pick stones from feet that hold the thunder in the cup of their soles.
There's work I need to do. Habits I need to break and reshape, lessons I somehow need to both teach and learn at the same time.
But for one moment, for this moment, I sit on the rail and breathe the peace of the herd. I fill my heart with a comforting silence composed of tiny sounds: the flick of an ear, blink of an eye, whisper of breath. The swish of a tail, toss of a mane, shiver of satin skin. I listen to them bite and tear the grass, hear them chew.
It feels like home, here. Like peace and safety and everything I ever wanted.
Sometimes I feel guilty asking for more, but the view between those ears is intoxicating and the rush of wind from the saddle tastes like freedom.
Today I will ride and I will think and I will wonder and I will try - ineffectually - to banish the clouds of questions buzzing in my mind. But for now, I sit and give thanks.