Before I left for Florida I had come to the conclusion that peace--your own internal sense of being calmly centered--is the most precious thing you can offer to someone you love.
In Florida I began to see that it’s even deeper than that: peace isn’t a gift you give so much as it is the environment necessary for love to truly flourish. Without peace, love just doesn’t come through the same way.
I have loved Lupin his entire life. That love has kept me with him through times I felt like there was no way we were going to work things out between us, through times I felt overwhelmed by everything I didn’t know about how to help him, through fear that both of us would get hurt. I’m a stubborn person, but I don’t think you can be that stubborn over that long a time without love lying at the root of it.
At the same time, though, I have rarely felt like that love really came through to Lupin very clearly. In a certain way we were pretty strongly connected, but not in a way that often felt great to either of us. For my part I was always cranked about all the things I didn’t know yet, about not doing it right, about screwing up my horse. Lupin was more often than not only half engaged and pretty quick to shut down. I’m not confident that either of us were truly keen on spending time together. But I kept at it, because I love him.
And I’m not belittling that kind of commitment. Sometimes that’s what love is: working hard and gutting it out for someone you care about.
But I also think we make love into this far more often than we need to. We have this immense amount of love for someone, but only a tiny bit of it manages to trickle through the wall of tension that we’ve built around it. Tension created by the fear that we’re not good enough, or worry about what will happen, or stressing over what the other person/animal thinks or feels, or focusing on things that we perceive to be problems in the relationship.
I think it’s a lot like what Mark says about physical power: our power is far greater than our actual muscular strength, but power doesn’t come through if we are tense. We need to be soft internally for our power to be anything close to fully effective.
To me it’s the same relationship between love and peace. We can have vast amounts of love, but if we aren’t peaceful, it just doesn’t come through.
The best part about my time in Florida was that everything was peaceful. Learning was peaceful, connection to my horse was peaceful, being in general was peaceful. Not only do Mark and Crissi foster this kind of atmosphere; they teach their students how to cultivate the peace that’s within themselves in the form of softness, calmness, and staying centered.
The first day I spent in Florida I lay in the sunshine enjoying how good it felt on my skin and how beautiful Lupin looked in it. As the two weeks went along, it felt more like that sunshine was inside me, inside Lupin, and connecting the two of us together in a soft, relaxed, golden feeling that I can only describe as deeply peaceful love.