If you love adventure. If you love horses and travel, find a way to see The Long Rider. Bernie and I went to the Premiere of Filipe Masetti Leite's film, The Long Rider, at the Beaufort Film Festival. It was amazing. For me, it was a cathartic game changer to watch a rider and his horses take on so many challenges as they worked their way from Calgary, Canada, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many things go wrong, but Filipe and his horses make it. Their lives are more connected, one to the other, and much enriched by their journey.
The horses stay in Brazil at Filipe's parents' house, and the movie continues with Filipe riding on to Patagonia, Argentina, with new horses where he meets the love of his life. Then to make his journey across the Americas complete, he rides the final leg from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Calgary, Canada. Filipe's journey is never easy, but so much personal growth and transformational goodness come from his trips, from sticking to and fulfilling his dreams. He is an inspiration.
A few days after the premiere, Bernie and I talked with Filipe on the phone. I asked him how he dealt with his fears and doubts. The following are a few quotes from what he told me.
"Fear is just a monster that harbors all minds. My journey taught me that, literally, fear is that monster. And, if you're able to put it down and use that adrenaline to push you forward, you can do amazing things."
"We don't know when the end is when the end will be, but it's gonna be at some point. So why are we gonna let that stop us from doing these amazing things, from having these tremendous experiences, from meeting the love of our life?"
"There's no point of fearing the end because it's already planned. I don't know, by who, if it's God the Universe or what, but it's all already written, and we're just going through the motions. So that definitely helped me a lot to deal with fear."
Filipe has two books that are available on Amazon, Long Ride Home: Guts, Guns and Grizzlies, 800 Days Through The Americas in a Saddle, and Long Ride To The End Of The World: A Lonely Long Rider's 7500 KM Journey to the Land of Fire.
Filipe's film The Long Rider is now making its rounds at film festivals. It is a fantastic film worth requesting shown in a theater near you. It's truly one of the best films I've ever seen, a remarkable man with an amazing story.
Filipe can be followed on his Instagram account www.instagram.com/filipemasetti/?hl=en
“They say the opposite of joy is not sadness but fear.” - Ann Robertson The Gift of Imperfection
The horse training came to a halt behind a massive flood of tears and frustration. Something was going further south the more I worked with Pie and Magneto. What was I doing? I started to doubt my abilities and the good connection I'd had with horses all my life.
Both Pie and Magneto seemed annoyed and disconnected. I'd let them out in the pasture, and they'd explode away from me, Pie, with her heels flying. I noticed that on the days my brain was the most unsettled by fear, negative thoughts or frustrations, the more upset Pie would be and the more tense Magneto like they were a mirror of my own emotions.
I was going through something. I realized I'd been slipping into a negative pattern of thinking. I was finding myself having a lot of negative thoughts. I was “catastrophizing” My husband Bernie's and my upcoming long ride around the West, thinking that Magneto and Pie would spook at a bear, throw me off and run away, leaving me to face a grizzly that I would then have to attempt to shoot because the bear spray was deep in my pack.
Perhaps I would not be able to draw the revolver from my chest harness in time. Perhaps my hands and arms would become so weak from fear that I would not be able to hold the gun steady and pull the trigger. Maybe, as I've heard told, even the massive bullets from my powerful revolver might not kill the grizzly before he got me in his teeth. Thinking about these remote and distant catastrophes became an obsession. My fears were getting the better of me. I was looking at everything in a fearful and negative light.
The way I've tried to deal with my fears in the past has been to meet them head-on. I try to be as prepared as possible. That's why I've been taking lessons shooting a .44 revolver, checking out bear spray and learning about bear ecology. That's why I've been working on desensitizing my horses.
Yet somewhere in my earnest attempt to get myself and my horses prepared, I triggered my fears. I was drowning in fear. I tried to hide it and carry on, but my horses sensed it like lie detectors. The energy I was transmitting was shouting, "flee!" like the grizzly bear was right on their asses. They hated the incongruence even more. They felt unsafe with me standing there like I was fine when I wasn't. They hated my inauthenticity, and frankly, I did too.
I despised my fear. It made me look so weak. Fear was making my horses not want to be around me. Fear was making me unpleasant to be around. Fear was concocting unlikely, nightmare scenarios. Fear had me in its grip. It was making me feel crazy. I couldn't get loose unless I could admit it had a hold of me. While we love hearing about other people’s vulnerabilities we hate mentioning our own.
It was a struggle. In a snotty confession to myself and my husband Bernie, I finally admitted my fears and started actively looking for some helpful ways to make peace with them. The most beneficial way I’ve found has been meditating and practicing mindfulness. I call my meditation practice "wheelbarrow meditation."
Every day I roll my wheelbarrow into the horse pasture, climb in it and meditate for 20 minutes with a timer set. It has helped a lot. My horses connect with me again. Fear has subsided, and joy has returned. In the present, where I am practicing living through mindfulness, there are no bucking horses or attacking grizzly bears. My pulse has slowed and my mind has learned how to quiet itself a bit.
The book Fear: Essential Wisdom For Getting Through The Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh helped me find the right path. Also helpful have been Warwick Schiller's podcasts with many sages, Jane Pike's Confident Rider Program and Filipe Leite's documentary, The Long Rider. I'm still in training, but I can see a positive path ahead. My horses are relaxing again because of the better energy around them. I have unwittingly begun my journey before I thought it was to start. The upcoming long ride around the West is again full of joyful anticipation and a lot less dread. Harriet Bighorn is happily on the path of “woo.”
*Click here to go to The artist Andy Thomas' website