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Sounding board…

June 30, 2010

“She’ll bite you,” Aunt Peg told me, “and she’ll kick…”

But there was something about Dimples that drew me…

I knew nothing of horses or ponies,

but at thirteen I understood the feeling of being displaced, lost, and frightened…

I saw that in her, and I started to visit her…

The day I touched her for the first time was magical…

She shivered, twitched…

I kept my voice low,

moved slowly and rubbed her flank…

I could feel her anxiety,

but the more I stroked her the more she calmed and settled…

Within days she let me curry comb her mane and tail,

all the while talking soft and low…

Riding Dimples was pure joy…

We walked around that forty-acre field for a couple of days,

and she relaxed…

Soon, I was courageous enough to push her up to a trot…

And one day,

after a week of this,

she cantered for me…

Coming back one evening she broke into a full gallop…

 

It scared me at first,

then filled me with glory…

— in One Native Life by Richard Wagamese…

When I was growing up I wanted to be a 747 pilot,

or a boxer…

My mother told me I should be a dental hygienist,

and she had some reasons why…

I never listened to her reason,

if I could help it,

because it was full of holes…

But my father must have heard her,

or been behind the message,

because the first and only other woman he’s been with,

since my mother,

is a dental hygienist…

When I was in my undergrad at the University of British Columbia,

finishing up a double major in Psychology and Family Studies,

the women professors were encouraging me to go on and seek an academic career,

in Family Science…

When I went to talk to one of the two male professors in the department,

he leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head,

showing off his cowboy boots and big shiny buckle,

and told me I should forget all about it,

and become an elementary school teacher,

because in the end I’d make more money,

and have my summers off…

I sent him the middle finger,

but something in me remembered what I’d wanted,

when I was six…

I eventually became an elementary school teacher,

but I came to it through the back door,

by following an invisible red thread,

that was leading me to what I was created to be,

and what I loved to do…

Through an alignment of circumstances,

patience,

and waiting,

I ended up teaching environmental education programs sponsored by BC Hydro,

in elementary school classrooms across the Lower Mainland,

and up both coasts of Vancouver Island…

I was never so happy and comfortable as I was,

in those classrooms,

surrounded by other people’s children,

and that is how I knew…

Last September I found myself talking to a horse…

I could hear what he was telling me…

He sang Coldplay songs…

He nodded his head when I talked to him,

and when I was telling the other people in the group what his core messages were,

he put his foot down for emphasis…

And his final message for me,

before I walked up the hill away from his field,

was,

I hope that today you have learned never to doubt yourself,

and what you know…

I told my father and his dental hygienist about this magical experience…

They couldn’t go there…

I felt sad for them and the safe box they live in,

with all of those other people…

I tell my children that there are people in the world who will try to grind you down with their fear,

and their faulty logic…

And to remember that you drew them into your life,

to learn something…

But more importantly,

your life is your stage,

and you are a bright star…

Your connection to your true self,

is all you will ever need to shine…

Last week,

when I was picking up a ticket for the mariachi band,

at the neighbours,

the wife said to me as she walked me to my bicycle,

All men are the same…

They aren’t complicated…

There’s nothing wrong with that,

it’s just,

they can’t talk about anything deep…

I begged to differ,

and I wanted to say that I wish a lot of women,

would stick a sock in it…

But I saved my breath,

and on my ride home,

added up the times I’ve met women who must be of some other species…

Like the mother of one of Starshine’s schoolmates,

who left a message on my voice mail in the pitch of a Siamese cat in heat…

All giggly about how much fun it was to sit on the school bus beside me on the field trip,

and could I please bring my cream puffs to the teacher’s luncheon on Friday…

Stroking my cheek in the library with the back of her hand,

and cackling,

I’ve been talking all about you while we’ve been preparing lunch,

and I’ve made you a new friend…

Or the ex-partner of my friend since Kindergarten who,

right out of her break-up,

called to say,

I’m sitting in the sun on the deck of my sailboat,

eating the most delicious juicy peach ever,

and I thought of you…

When things like this happen,

sometimes I have to laugh,

and other times I have to wonder what planet I’m on…

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to let someone know,

I really don’t like cold wind…

and,

Sorry, but my Volvo is not a convertible…

We shadow box and double cross, yet need the chase...

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