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  • Though I've often wondered if people actually have something in them that makes them a 'city person' or a 'country person', thinking that surely we as humans are adaptable and can thrive in many different environments, in the last few years, I have begun to believe that maybe there is something that makes people inclined one way or the other. This change in thinking has come about through my own discoveries of how I respond to living in a big city for multiple years. I grew up in a small town, had a close family and a few close friends. The community was largely personable, lively and supportive, and I know that with all this I was really blessed.

    I always wanted to study at university and complete a degree, and to attend the particular university that I have chosen to study at, I have been living in a big city for the past three years. Yes, I still believe that we are capable of adapting, we do it all the time, but in my time living here, I have seen how adaptation, while often necessary to survive in new environments, has made me feel as though I'm detouring. I keep having to remind myself that the city is a temporary part of my life, and that I will once again be free of its confines. Studying at university is a privilege, a gift and a blessing. I do really value my opportunity to do this, as not everyone who wants to gets to do it, however, lately I have noticed that sometimes my perspective slips and I have moments where I start taking it for granted, feeling like I have had enough of it and want to be finished with this chapter of my life. I feel the obsurity of the city wearing on me, the constant unfamiliarity and pain of isolation in the midst of thousands is an onslaught that attacks my sense of groundedness.

    In these moments of jadedness, where dislocation and disconnection have tempered my joy and excitement in learning and growing with apprehension and apathy, I have found myself without much liking for the big city and longing to live a small-town life again. I notice certain things about the city, like the excess of sound at all hours of day and night. Traffic sounds, car alarms, loud music, and homeless people rummaging for bottles are all sounds that seem to monopolize a city's sound-scape. I find no peace in these. I notice the difference in pace of life between the two places, and feel a general sense of impatience often permeates in cities. On the worst of days, it feels like a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is out for themselves and no one cares what happens to you. I know that this isn't entirely true, but this is a feeling that I only seem to have when I'm in a big city. And whenever I start feeling as if city life is all there is, I try to remember back to my life in the small town where I grew up. I remember my experience during the years that I spent riding horses, and the fulfilment that it brought me.

    I have loved horses since I was eight years old. I began taking riding lessons when I was nine and rode regularly for ten years. I went from beginner to intermediate to experienced rider and learned numerous life lessons along the way. And in that time, I felt as though life made sense. I had a purpose and I was content with the balance of hard work, challenge, exhilaration and progress that I had. I always knew that I was moving towards something more, something bigger. I was preparing myself in many ways for the fullness of my life to unfold, and I knew that I was right where I needed to be.

    While studying at university, I have had little time or money to stay involved with horses in any significant way. I sold the horse that I had owned and loved for four years in the summer after my first year of university. I will always be thankful for the experiences that I had owning and riding him, and miss him in a way that is near to indescribable to anyone who has never experienced such a connection with a horse. He was such a joy and my life was so enriched by having him in it.

    And so I found myself, a 'country person' or small-town girl, living in a big city, missing the peace and quiet, atmosphere and attitude of the country, excited to go and visit a long-time friend, who is also a horseback rider, out in the farm-filled interior of BC. In the state I was in, I could hardly even imagine what good things I was in for. I had a distant and undefined hope that I would experience something of the exhilaration and vitality that I once had when I rode and spent much of my time outside. Beyond that, nothing was very clear. What came about during my visit was an experience that at once fulfilled a wish that I had long held, renewed a confidence within me and flooded me with such joy and delight, the likes of which I have not experienced in far too long a time. It was as simple and magnificent as this: we went swimming on horseback.

    And while I was there, I realized that my love of the country was rooted in knowing and appreciating the seemingly simple things, like the constant things of nature. I realized that when I am present to all of that, a beautiful world, more complex and wonderful but reliable and true, opens up to me and I can at once know peace, contentment and joy once more.
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