Wednesday, June 15, 2011


"Your mind operates like computer screen pop-ups."So said my husband one evening before bed.


I grimaced and said something sassy. Later I decided he was pretty spot-on. The last two months I've had a hard time concentrating on anything, for any length of time. Attention span of a gnat and all that. A boatload of responsibilities, commitments, plans and events had my mind flashing from thought to thought like those annoying computer ads that pop-up unbidden on the screen. Or, almost as bad, those flashes of top news stories and "trending now" attention-getters on the internet. The only thing trending last month was my nervous breakdown. To illustrate how random my mind became I only have to think of a night two weeks ago. I woke up at 3 a.m. with this thought: How will I cut and serve the carne asada??? I swear I spent a half hour staring into the dark and worrying about my son's upcoming graduation party and the stupid carne asada on the menu. But that has been my life: one graduating son, visiting East coast relatives, a writing workshop, wrapping up a client's book project, a new editing job, church, family, and home responsibilities. I was exhausted, but my brain was on pop-up hyper-drive.

That's why I had to go riding. Yep, right in the middle of all of it I pulled my horse out of the pasture, prayed he wouldn't be too jacked up after sitting in the field all ornamental-like, and threw the saddle on his back. I hit the trail and left a house in disorder and a party menu that needed planning. It didn't take too long for me to take a deep breath, gaze at the wonder of the Twin Sisters granite spires, and get a desperately needed reality-check. Boy, do I need to ride.

Horseback riding, for me, is the ultimate mind/body exercise. The mind slows down and begins listening--to the body, to the environment, to the quiet whispers of the spirit. I love a line in the movie The Last Samurai. When Tom Cruise is unable to wield his sword, unable to concentrate and be effective, one of the Japanese samurais remarks, Too many mind. I know all about that.

Information overload, combined with an overloaded schedule, creates a condition of "too many mind." Horse time, for me, is a time to remember to listen and stop reacting to the craziness around me--"This too shall pass" and "It ain't nothing but a thing." The perfect carne asada does not a meaningful life make.

Sometimes you get ahead faster by going slower. I seem to always find perspective by focusing my attention between two furry ears and a dirt trail beneath me, where the loudest noise is the clicking of hooves over stones, the flick of a tail, and a whiskery snort.

Happy trails, may you lose your (too many) mind on the back of a horse.

PS. The carne asada turned out great.