I see you

September 2009 to March 2010-7

The expression, may you live in interesting times, seems to be the theme of 2020. According to Wikipedia the expression is an English translation of a traditional Chinese curse. While we might consider peaceful and predictable times uninteresting, they are also free from harmful events. Interesting times implies a degree of uncertainty, and at its worst danger. These days many of us find ourselves questioning our ability to hold our lives together while the ground beneath our feet feels unreliable. So, although I am not a religious person, I do follow a spiritual path and I often pray these days. I pray for an end to the uncertainty,  I pray  for a way to heal the division between peoples hearts and minds, and I pray for a way to make a difference. It is then, in the hollowest of moments, that I contemplate,  “But who am I, but one to make a difference?” And then I look out into the crowd of many, and I see you— your vacant eyes and slumped shoulders burdened by the weight of our worlds affairs. My eyes mirror the weariness in you and the chronic state of collapsed joy.

My point is, just in case you missed the enormous needle bearing down on you, is that it’s easy to be led astray by the events we are experiencing today which make us feel incapacitated and caught. I know I often find myself descending into an emotional pit,  which either delves into the darkness of anger where I soon find myself throwing F-bombs like Rambo throws grenades, or I fall into a frozen state of fear bracing for some sort of cataclysmic conclusion, only able to breath in the barest of whispers. In either situation, I am suddenly as powerless and as ineffectual as a streetlight with its bulb blown out. At times I feel less than one and yet I still wish to help.

It is then, in the darkness of my thoughts that I ask again, “Who am I but one to make a difference?” After waiting a few minutes, I admit to feeling slightly disappointed in the Universe,  a little alien zipping down from the sky to share its bit of knowledge would have been nice, or at least the half expected booming Godly voice with an explanation to my query. But no— silence was the answer. Not one to give up so easily, I make myself comfortable, by listening to inspirational binaural beats and meditating. Eventually an answer formed in my mind, “One of anything is a whole. It is not a fraction or a half hearted effort, one is a complete structure within itself. One has the capability of becoming more.” And although that answer felt satisfying to me, I searched further yet, and came across Britannica.com stating, ‘At the most basic of religious thoughts, the most perfect number was one, for by advancing from zero to one, men believed they proceeded from non-existence to existence. Moreover, all other whole numbers were regarded multiples of one, representative of the Creator.’ From that, a simple conclusion sprang into my mind, we are one of many, and at the same time simply one. Therefore, we all represent the ability to connect, to collaborate and to bring about the change we wish to see. One is the beginning, do what you can where you stand. Shine bright.

Dreams Come True

 

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The thudding rhythmic beat of the hooves is music to my ears. The momentary pause as man and beast soar over the jump is grace in action. The competitors make it look simple. They gallop around the course in a collected manner and then spring up over the jump. I’m not sure the audience can fully appreciate the hours of practice and training that goes into the presented teamwork of horse and rider. This is a dream come true, it is the riders dream come true.

I attended the Nations Cup At Spruce Meadows held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on September 9, 2017. It wasn’t only an outing to enjoy the beauty of the equestrian sport but it was a small reunion between a few Equine Studies college friends, and myself. We hadn’t been together in over ten years. So what better way to reconnect than to horse around at Spruce Meadows? Yeah, it’s a groaner.

The horse is an instinctual animal that has survived for hundreds of years by living according to it’s fight or flight instincts. I reluctantly add that by nature’s choosing, horses are creatures of prey. In the wild they are hoofed grass eaters subject to the laws of the hunt. The weak and slow of the herd are meals for packs of roving wolves, the henchman of the bush. Most horses choose flight over fight. Unless they are cornered, and then watch the kicking, striking, and biting commence. This fact alone should add to your admiration for all who sit astride a horse in hopes of controlling the outcome.

I’ve had the pleasure of horses in my life since I was a naive little pea pod on the vine of life. (Such a bad metaphor, no comments from the peanut gallery.) I have been tossed, trampled, struck, bowled over, bit and kicked by horses. I know through painful and personal experience that horses are not just instinctual beings, but are emotional creatures as well. They form strong bonds of companionship between other horses, and given time and trust, between people as well. Horses are sensitive to emotion. They sense fear or hostility in a person by simply being close to them. They don’t need the demonstration of trembling hands or a rough brush, to know a person can’t be trusted in that state of mind. This means, for a rider to be successful, they must be calm and confident, even in the face of their own personal fears. The trust between horse and rider must be like the trust between a flying trapeze performer and their partner who catches them. There can be no hesitation, or doubt, timing is everything. Welcome to the Spock Academy for hopeful equestrians.

Now lets add to the mix, the fact that horses actually do have ideas and desires of their own. Sometimes a stallion would rather be mounting a mare than leaping a fence. It takes a strong hand to guide a stallion to a rider’s whims. Sometimes horses are having a bad day. Maybe they miss a stable-mate, or are feeling lazy, like they would rather just lie around the pasture. It’s a whole different ball game when a sport includes a non-verbal teammate.

 

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Ultimately show jumping is communication between man and beast, for the jumper to be successful the horse must want to jump. Somewhere inside them there is the desire to soar. And as I watched the jumping events it is clear to see the horse trusts it’s rider, and the rider trusts his horse. The horses responds to the encouragement and challenge from their director to jump fences they wouldn’t jump on their own.

It’s bloody amazing. The professionals in any sport can make the task look easy. The teamwork in show jumping seems effortless, and therein lays the magic. It is the slippery fricken magic of appearance. We don’t see the in behind scenes of hard work, or countless hours of practice and failure. We haven’t seen the riders struggle to maintain a positive outlook through their feelings of frustration, doubt and fear. If these show jumpers can trust their horse, who by nature are a creature of fight or flight, to go over jumps for them time and time again. then I do think you can trust yourself to accomplish whatever dreams you can conjure up in your limitless mind.

You got this. Oh yes. Damn right you do.