C.S. Lewis may have said it best, as we usually remember historic words and platitudes.
I used to have this quote hanging on the wall right by the door, so I could see it each time I left my office. It gave me perspective, a "Get-out-of-Jail-Free" card from my worry if you will, when a client started becoming angry and the world looked bleak.
The quote itself is a beneficial memory of self-sufficiency and self-indulgence; independence and a macro perspective on problems - which, honestly, are hard to fall back to when times get tough and people get tougher.
As anyone reading this blog knows. I'm a horse-lover by heart. I grew up in the thick of the industry, propelled by my father's reputation and success as a blacksmith - all bias aside, a damned good one, too. Horses came and went, as I never owned - always leased or rode others in lessons. Though I've been dreaming of owning my own horse since I was a little girl reading horse encyclopedias, it's always been right outside of my reach, even with my "big girl job". See, I forgot as a child that adult jobs also come with bills - a lot of them.
I think back on those formative years, galloping in the schoolyard during recess and reading all the Saddle Club books I could get my hands on, with a fondness and melancholy fit for older age. I think of those experiences differently now than even six weeks ago.
It all started when I got married. After the wedding, going and riding someone else's horse in a weekly lesson wasn't fulfilling. I wanted something of my own, or something I could pretend was my own, even if it was just temporary. I started putting feelers out. I even created a new Facebook account, just to connect with equestrians in my area. I finally found four horses to try, and after a few test rides (think of test-driving a car), I settled on one. He was young, eager, smart, and big - just my type of horse. I moved my gear to the barn and started riding. It was perfect; I was enjoying my hobby and I could identify with my hobby again: feeling as though I no longer barely qualified as an equestrian.
Then the inevitable happened when you have a 1.5 ton animal beneath you, with their fight-or-flight response programmed so deep in their core. It was dark, there was a small animal, and I went down. Though I hope it resembled a graceful swan, it probably looked more like Wile E. Coyote when he realized the Roadrunner outran him yet again.
Every equestrian falls; that's part of the beauty of the sport to me. We all fall, we all fly; whether we have Olympic gold medals or a backyard pony. It's the great equalizer of equestrianism. It had been a decade or so since I last fell, and I must say, falling as an older twenty-something is a lot more difficult than a rubbery 16-year old. After four doctors appointments, three prescriptions, two days off of work, and many grumbles, I succumbed to the logic of joining a physical therapy program and slowly started to heal. As time goes on, I'm reminded of the gravity of the fall (pun not intended). It was a big fall - more than the usual, "Dust yourself off, cowboy" falls I had experienced before. This was the first fall that I didn't immediately get back on. Instead, I took myself home and then to the urgent care center.
In these past six weeks, something else has stirred deep inside me - a growing, gnawing feeling of doubt. Maybe I'm not meant to be an adult rider. Am I really that good? I have nothing to show for any of it, and the constant going out, cleaning, working; taking communion of blood, sweat, and tears is taxing. It's hard to take time from my new marriage to take care of a stranger's horse. It's hard to work 8 or 9 hours a day, put on funny pants and boots, and touch manure.
We all have self-doubt now and again, and to be honest, I don't know how my adult self will ultimately resolve this experience. The deep devotion and undying love I had for animals has been replaced, bit by bit, by other things: watching the sunrise from the gym in the mornings; snuggling with Netflix, Hubby, and wine during the week; working late in a quiet office on ideas that move people; and having time to write and meditate.
At the end of the day, I have to come back to C.S.'s words of wisdom: I can give or take riding a specific horse; but in my heart of hearts, I still feel like an equestrian. I can't give up the feelings of an extended canter in a field, flying over a jump, basking in the sunshine on a warm summer day, kissing my special someone good night, or of having a heart full of love. Though we have to be careful not to put all of our eggs into one Happiness basket, I truly believe that those that love us will, in time, show us that.