On one early evening, on the island Inishmore, I went searching for an old castle. It was uphill the entire time on the main road. I had to get off my bike and walk it at one point, and I was probably in first gear most of this ride. The island was quite sloped, and offered me lots of ways to get my ass aching. Again. Lots. of. ROCKS.
I found the castle, roamed around inside it. It was really tall and I was able to climb an existing stairwell inside to the top and look out through a passage. I had a pretty clear view of ocean, and what seemed like an endless sea of rock walls leading to it. A maze. A labyrinth. I kept looking around for a bit, but found myself more interested in walking toward the sea… wander through all those walls. From way up there, it didn’t look too far. I could hear the waves. Parts of the walls were missing, and I wondered why, when other structures kept on standing… I parked my bike along a wall next to the castle and started walking the paths toward the ocean.
The island’s landscape made the castle smaller and smaller as I walked… pretty soon it was out of sight all together. I was the only one out here. It seemed like I could see for miles; not a soul anywhere. I just walked. Strutted is probably more accurate. It was warm today, and I was center-island, so there was not a lot of wind. And I was feeling really in my element. Grounded. What a maze of corridors.
I looked at walls and how carefully they were built, and thought about how long they had been standing there, and why so many. I asked this question later and was told, it was to uncover earth, so they could farm, and to stop the prevailing ocean winds. (By the way, my bike was titled before I left, which I painted in black on its frame, Gnáthghaoth, which means Prevailing Wind in Gaelic.) As I was walking, I saw a couple of goats. I think I startled them. They looked at me like “what the hell are you doing Love?”. I talked to them like they were just people standing there. I was no longer alone. The castle was gone, I had taken a couple turns, I stopped hearing ocean, but I was in love with wandering these twists and turns. After two hours, I realized that I was totally lost. All the walls and pathways looked exactly the same. And they were everywhere. I could see no castle. I could hear no ocean. I felt like I was trapped.
It took three hours before I saw some young kid coming flying down a path on a dirt bike. He was from Sweden, and said he had no idea where the castle was, because he was coming from the other end of the island and rode off. I wandered, I sat, I took turns, and I made choices. I started considering this the Labyrinth of my life. I went from earliest age and experiences, to now, to where I was that day. I went to Ireland not knowing what would come next, what I even wanted anymore. I felt like I didn’t know anything. I would take the opportunity to do a mindful labyrinth walk.
I thought when my oldest daughter Meghan left for school, that I would be one those “together” moms who would handle that all with ease, but I wasn’t. I found her being gone a huge loss, and I felt like I was grieving a death. Now I had all this free time, and I had no idea who I was anymore.
As soon as I made a choice to mindful walk, around the next turn was a white horse. Only one, all by itself inside one the rock walls. I immediately connected with this horse, and started a conversation. I told him that I sat on every white horse, in every children-themed Fairy Tale park, from Maine to Florida when I was a kid. Every plastic, cement, huge white fairy tale horse my parents could find. I have the childhood video to prove it. My mother was apparently a big fan of the white horse fantasy. I was also born in the year of the HORSE, and spent years growing up on White Horse Beach, Massachusetts. THIS WAS MY ANIMAL.
A white horse. Perfect. My totem. I realized, that without those rock walls, he could run free and wild. I also realized he could run right off the edge of the island to his death. But here he was, content to be caged in because he didn’t have much of a choice. Here I was with all these choices, no real walls, and I felt more trapped than he did I think. I can just as easily run right off the cliff.
It took me four hours to find my bike. But if I didn’t, I was sleeping with that white horse.