Freedom in Captivity ~
A friend told me a story recently of a wild mustang adopted by a woman and her 21-year old daughter. As a poet he wrote a sonnet about it and shared it with me as well as the context of the story that inspired him.
The women told him about the difference of a mustang who lives with the herd and one brought into captivity and I was struck by the multiple potential meanings of these two words—herd and captivity—and how they applied to this mustang named Remy.
Herd may conjure warm thoughts about tribe, family, and friends, belonging and protection. Or, it may conjure divergent thoughts about group-think, following or not following the crowd, exclusion and all the nuances in between.
My friend and I raised our cups of tea in cheers to neither of us being herd followers. For this mustang, being part of the herd would have meant living half as long, a life of struggle and harsh conditions, and perhaps a painful death with the possibilities of fire, drought, injury, or being preyed upon.
The daughter was the first human to touch this wild mustang, laying her hand on his shoulder. Imagine that moment. The visceral connection of touching something so wild, of being touched by something previously unknown. The feeling of possibility for both of them. Within approximately four months Remy was trained to be ridden, to go in and out of the horse trailer, and enjoy his life in captivity.
For this mustang, captivity was love. An environment where he was truly free… to thrive, be discovered for his capabilities, be nurtured, have previously impossible creature comforts and a life potentially twice as long. Kind of changes the meaning of the word, captivity, doesn’t it?
Oh, that we are all such captives of love—giving and receiving in the strong arms of such an environment, like these women gave this horse—who didn’t have the choice to make of his own accord, by the way.
But you do.
The mustang’s captivity was his freedom. And make no mistake, your environments are that powerful, too. Who you surround yourself with inside and out and the environs that fulfill you matters to your health more than any diet and exercise, as studies have shown. It matters to your ability to achieve, to feel happiness, and thrive.
Safety comes in so many nuances besides our basic needs. As it was for Remy, safety is primal and it is expansive. It is the starting point of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and it is the foundation that expands to support and launch previously unreachable heights.
You will likely revisit safety many times in your life, even without realizing it, in the risks you take to expand, to create, to open more possibilities, potentials and resources. An executive responsible for supporting his family may ponder the risks of leaping from an unfulfilling job before his next position is visible. A real estate investor may consider risking her secure resources on a deal that could go south…or that could go exponential. An adventurer risks her life to scale the side of a rock cliff, yet unaccomplished by humans. A man rattled by dis-ease decides to reclaim his life and vitality. And the everyday risks (adventures) we take to be vulnerable and greater versions of ourselves.
Remy may not run the desert plains again, but he will run free from now on, his mane blown back by the risk these women took to adopt him. May you be met with the thoughtfulness that sets you free. May you live in the safety of the fire of your own soul and drought become oceans of supply in the infinite adventure of being and becoming more of you.
“It’s a big thing to learn you don’t owe
your old self any say in who you want to be now.”
Here’s to more of you in the world ❤️