A Walk for Reflection, by Kiernan Fallows

The weather at the farm this week was saddening. As the sun melted the snow that was

present at the start of the week, more rain came in full force. Normally I find rain relaxing to

listen to, but when I’m working outside four days a week, it gets old fast. Inside the barn was

busy this week, as usual. The normal hustle and bustle of thirty-five horses moving from place to

place and pasture to pasture gives you a little bit of a whiplash but I am starting to get the hang

of working at such a fast pace. I took a horse named Vera on some walks this week for twenty

five minutes a day. She has a torn suspensory ligament and as part of her healing process I give

her daily walks. Usually I call someone and talk on the phone to pass the time, but this week I

decided to walk outside and take a listen to my surroundings. As the weather has warmed up, I

noticed a huge flock of canadian geese has taken up residency at the pond near the barn and they

are quite loud. They were taking baths in the water, probably just as happy as I was that the

weather was up to the forties. As the snow melted, the ground became soft and quite muddy. If

the horses aren’t careful when galloping through the fields, they may just find themselves

slipping and falling. The barn swallows have been making so much noise flying from tree to tree,

chasing each other almost as if they are playing tag. Other people in the barn have been

complaining about how loud they are, but I find them quite enjoyable to watch.

While on one of our walks, I was thinking about trauma. Partially because we were

discussing it in class and partially because the night before I had a really bad dream flashing

back to a traumatic experience in my own life. I don’t usually have dreams like that often, but

when I get really stressed about work or school, I feel like these dreams are my body’s way of

telling me to slow down and take care of myself.

A couple years ago I was driving down the road and came upon a woman begging for

help as her house was on fire. There were two people in the house when it started, this woman

and her eighteen year old daughter. When I came upon the accident by chance, the mother had

jumped out the window to save herself and had no choice but to leave her daughter behind in the

flames. She was bleeding and in obvious shock and as I held towels from my car trunk on her

wounds to try to stop the bleeding I couldn’t do anything but watch the house go up in flames

knowing her daughter was inside. There was absolutely nothing I could have done, but for a

while I couldn’t help but feel partially responsible for her death. After months of trying to just

forget this whole thing happened, I finally went to therapy to talk about it and I have been doing

much better since.

While reading about how the indigenous people were removed from their homes and as

they looked back they saw their own houses in flames, I felt a pang in my chest. It hit close to

home and although, thankfully, I have never seen this happen to my own house, I have seen it

happen to someone else’s right before my eyes. Although this specific part of the book struck a

chord with me, another person may have read it and felt nothing. There is a level of compassion

and understanding necessary to feel grief. It’s so much easier to just forget something happened,

to turn a blind eye, to not have uncomfortable conversations, but those responses aren’t helpful

towards forward progress. When reading about people’s homes being burned down, it’s easy for

me to feel for them because of my own experiences. It is important for people to read books like

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States so we have a better understanding of what

happened to indigenous communities and the ways that our country was founded. Not only just

reading books like this is important, but also discussing them with others. We can then use this

information to help better understand why there are lasting impacts on groups of people today

and help us understand the steps needed to be taken to sympathize with those groups and

reconcile the present effects of those lasting issues.

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