Many years later I took my daughter to her first horseback riding lesson. While walking from my car to the barn, my sense memories kicked in and it all came flooding back to me: my beautiful aunt, her unconditional love for me, the comfort of our close companionship, her belief in me, my determination to win that contest, our celebration.
And then, of course, the memory of my loss. In an instant I realized for the first time that I had buried my love of horseback riding beneath layers of fear, a little girl's guilt, and the recasting of a courageous choice into something shameful. Finally I could untangle the twisted truth of an ancient lie that had robbed me of so much joy.
Thirty-five years after I fell off a horse, I got back on one, starting from scratch in a beginner's class with seven-year-olds. It didn't matter. I was seven years old once again, too, grateful to be back in the saddle, thrilled to have recovered a precious portion of my relinquished Self. On my way home I stopped off at bookstore and got myself a brand new copy of National Velvet.
Even though you are searching for a pattern of personal, authentic pleasures and preferences, be prepared; you can't know what memories will be triggered as you reacquaint yourself with the girl you were once upon a time. But remember, you're not alone. Your Authentic Self is with you, a loving spiritual companion ready to help you unravel the tangled threads of memory, promise and abandonment. I had no idea that the aromatic alchemy of warm leather, sweat, hay and horses would act as conduits of such powerful soul memories for me. But, thanks to them, I could bring gentle emotional closure to a pivotal life experience.
Pain is part of the past. There isn't one of us who doesn't suit carry childhood wounds. Some are more horrific than others, but no matter how painful your young memories are, there were also glorious moments that kept you alive, or you would not be here today. "The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order," writer Eudora Welty confides. With patience and quiet observation, these events will provide your authentic archaeologist with a "continuous thread of revelation" that will reassuringly lead you back to your Self.
Back to the Beginning
The past is not only that which happened but also that which could have happened but did not.
We will be taking many backward glances throughout our journey, so we ought to accept at the outset that no life retraced ever really begins at the beginning, especially a woman's life. For while the past asks only to be remembered, a woman's memory alters on her behalf and in her best interests. Memory - the vain old biddy - cannot resist penciling a few slight, cosmetic revisions in the margins of the past. Memory is also fickle. She must be wooed and courted if she is to succumb to our charms. Sometimes she surprises us with her generosity, and we recall moments with astonishing clarity. Most of the time, however, our memories are fragmented, like shards of pottery found during archaeological excavations. When this happens, we need to let patience do her perfect work as we piece back together the girl we left behind.
"The past is such a subtle thing," the writer Natalie Barney tells us. "[But] in the end, nothing else exists, everything is made of the past, even the future."
Having It All
Longing is all that lasts.
Simple Abundance reassured you that "all you have is all you need" and showed you how to come to that awareness by using the mystical power of gratitude. Hopefully, thanks to gratitude, your life like mine was changed in wondrous ways for the better.
But now it might seem that I'm contradicting myself because I'm saying that it's okay if you still find yourself longing for Something More, even after being grateful, making positive changes, and growing into your authenticity.
Excerpted from SOMETHING MORE, excerpted with permission of the publisher. Published by Warner Books.
Copyright (c) 1998 Sarah Ban Breathnach.
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No Man's Land
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Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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