By: Joan Ledford
Inevitably it happens. I realize that I am carrying baggage around with me. Now don’t get me wrong, every girl deserves a purse, tote, backpack, and a couple of extras just in case. The problem is that carrying all of these at once or in addition to other traveling gear can get cumbersome. Add a pillow, blanket, suitcases, and I either become a pack mule or ask a friend or relative to resemble one. Such was the case when I showed up for my initial experiences at Peace Ranch for Hug and Groom.
Even on my first day, this became a time when I needed to admit that I had one too many bags. As I looked into my car, I knew that I had brought My Stuff: bag, backpack, all of it. Beach bag, office bag, grocery bag, and diaper bag, all with those necessary items. The bag, filled with the just-in-case Kleenex or pads, the eventual “What do I have in here?” collection that create weight and take up space. [Insert memories of science, matter definitions, and my own “gray matter” being in a state of solid, liquid or gas at times.]
My bag had thoughts of family, home, unwept tears, un-dried tears, empty moments, and a large black hole of lost expectations. Heavy stuff that I didn’t actually ask for. I never knew for sure what should come out or be left at home. Could I bear the burden in my bag? Sometimes I didn’t know what would spill out thus bare-ing my burden for others to see. I was not sure if bearing or bare-ing was easier or better. For me. For anyone.
I carried other stuff too. Large backpack of responsibilities, a purse—full of reminder notes—take care of this or that, and a mirror to check on me, the outside part anyway. So with the finesse of a well-trained wife and mom, who had abandoned all household responsibilities for the day, I shoved it all in the back seat and went off to hug and groom a horse.
I could have cried the entire time. But I didn’t. Did not even shed a tear…..on the outside. I don’t remember the horses’ names or faces. I only know that it was much like the 25+ years of grooming my kids…the biggest of whom lies in a grave just a mile or two from my house.
It was hard to be reminded that touch cannot be replaced. It remains difficult to know that the stuff I carry is common, every day stuff. Stuff happens. To everyone.
07/01/11 and 07/08/11 compiled
This essay is written in honor of the many who come to Peace Ranch to assist in healing from loss, sadness, and depression. Through participant observation, I was able to understand the reasons why they choose Equine Assisted Activities for learning, growth, and maybe even a little psychotherapy. Whether horse or human, we all need a little “Walk-In Clinique.” (French female noun for clinic.)