Monday, August 08, 2011

Your Self, Your Horse

Do you have a problem with your horse?  How personally are you taking that?  Can you separate your own "self" from that of your horse?  Inquiring minds want to know.

We are pretty much (many of us, anyway) aware that we have a tendency to project our own personal issues onto other people, and in return we like to take credit and/or blame for other people's behavior.  Naturally that's all ridiculous.  We can not control other people with any degree of certainty.  Just ask the mother of a teenager.

Or ask the owner of a recalcitrant horse with "potential" far above his level of willingness.

So why is it that we still don't get that taking our pets' personalities as an affront--feeling guilty, disgusted, disappointed, embarrassed about them--is pure silliness and leads to abuses of the finest kind?  The dog chases the neighbor's cat because he's hard-wired to do that.  Your yelling, beating, and other displays of shame on his behalf don't change that.  Training might, but even that isn't 100% effective.  He's got a "self" of his own, and it likes to chase cats.  Your horse is basically lazy.  Your yelling, beating, etc isn't going to change him, either, any more than his tossing you ass-first over cross-rails is going to change you.

Let's recap the "sphere of reality" concept.  You have one.  Your neighbor who collects dead groundhogs  has one.  Each of the fools voting in Congress in ways that  irritate you has one.  Your horse, your dog, your gerbil, the squirrel hanging upside down from the bird feeder...all separate spheres.  So what is it that we've all got?  It's a viewpoint.  That's all.

What does "snow" mean to you?  Is there a shovel involved? 
Or are you a flake-taster like Dillon?
Each being lives in a world that is inaccessible to other beings.  Yours is the world created by and for you by your very nature, your history, your experiences, your gender, state of health, age, ethnicity.  When you look out through your eyes, everything in your world is you-colored.  It may look green, blue, red, and lavender, but those are only the colors you are applying to what you see.  The background color is inescapably YOU.

Have I lost you yet?  Move on, then, to the fact that if your world is you-colored, then Charlie Sheen's world is Charlie-colored.  Your dog's world smacks of predatory instincts with a ground-level perspective.  Your cat's world is even more predatory since hunting and sleeping are basically his only activities.  Your horse has a view from much higher off the ground, colored by his prey animal instincts with cloudy spots from bouncing against your bubble by virtue of your interactions with him.  He can no more stop being himself and enter your bubble (which would, in effect, make him you) than he can sprout wings and nest on the barn roof. you find yourself angry at other people's behavior,or do you reserve your pique only for your pets?  Are you a little self-righteous and possibly controlling?  Having read the above, do you get that that's about as stupid as it gets?  You can make every attempt to bully your family, friends, neighbors, politicians, and pets, and you may "win", but you can't make them see your point-of-view.  The best you can hope for is detente, both of you viewing different worlds from your separate bubbles and agreeing not to try to kill each other for not being able to see the whole picture. 

The trick is to not just "know" this in a cognitive sense, but to "know" it in a meaningful way that makes compassion possible.  Aim for letting your bubble touch a few others without trying to control what's in them.  You'll be better for it and so will the world you live in.

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