Monday, January 23, 2012

Too Much of Not Enough

his is a fun video no matter who you are.  Believe me, I didn’t insert it for its religious significance, though it does have its share.  Living healthy isn't for the meek, and A. J. Jacobs puts a hilarious spin on how far we can take things if we let ourselves get lost in the conventional wisdom and News About Your Hair:  Is Air the New Dioxin?  We live, Jacobs says, in a noisy world (I, for one, love that he cites Bill Reilly as one of the noises, but I digress...).  It's noisy in more ways than one.

The "too much" part of the title of this post is obvious, but the "not enough" part, maybe not so much.  What I mean by that is that there's far too much of everything else--noise, news, social rules, fashion up-and-downgrades--and not nearly enough of the truth.  Facts are in short supply these days.  Sources rush to the starting gate the minute they think they might have something to warn us about that will boost their ratings.  Who among us hasn't DVR'd the late-night  news because the morning blurb said something tantalizing about Uranium in our corn flakes or the impending "baby bump" on the front of some Starlet somewhere?  Okay, maybe not the latter, but certainly the former is going to catch the attention of the masses long before the Noted Scientists involved have finished dotting the last i on the last page of their report.  Just last week the Fungicide In Your Orange Juice thing lasted a full 12 hours before it was reduced to a sound byte in the face of questionable actual evidence.

So we have too much of not enough information, and that applies to all parts of our culture, including the horse industry.  My first boarder had so much input from so many sources, for instance, that before I'd learned to use my NO! with authority, I'd bought five different kinds of grain and gone through the laborious switch-over process five times.  What she (and I) didn't have was enough real information.

What else do we have too much of not enough of?  

How about responsibility?
Has there been a time lately when you were on the giving or receiving end of an "explanation" for bad behavior that just made your head spin?  There are so many variations on this theme, it's mind-boggling.  Did someone kind of skirt the law because it seemed easier, then rant about how they were forced into that position?  Did you explain to your neighbor that your horses keep wandering into his Elegant Landscape Water Feature because it's too close the fence you keep forgetting to repair and the empty troughs you keep forgetting to fill?  Did you send a note to school explaining how the pony ate your kid's homework?

Did you buy or adopt a horse (or anything else) you can't afford, and did multiply the insult by begging for money to support your bad habit?

Did you say you'd pick up your daughter after soccer practice and forget?  Did your barn sitter neglect to check the buckets before dumping a scoop of grain on top of a manure deposit left from the night before?  Did you mean to call the farrier and change your appointment and forget?  Did you leave him to find, catch, and shoe your lunatic gelding by himself?  

Are you neglecting a horse (or anything else) you bought or adopted that you can't take care of? 

How often do you spin the truth to avoid looking bad?  "Oh, his ribs were sticking out like that when he got here" is a scant excuse after five years.  "No, I don't know what happened to your ____________."  Really, or are you just afraid to admit that you borrowed it and broke it?  "I hope you win your class!" sounds really good only if you're not gritting your teeth and poking the friend standing next to you so she won't miss your eye-roll.  "We're a horse rescue" has to be applied to actual horse rescues, not the faux variety.  "Nice horse!" only applies to nice horses.

Did you go all sappy over a down-on-his-luck horse (or anything else) and take it home without mentioning that said home is in foreclosure?

This is a big one.  Integrity is the sum of all the above-noted parts.  If you have too much of not enough of any of them, you're going to get gonged.  An honest, reliable, responsible person has integrity.  If any of those parts is missing, then you get a big zero on the Integrity Quotient scale.  There's no partial credit.  No make-up test.  No option for a discount.  

There is, however, the chance to rebuild yourself.  Like A. J. Jacobs' Year of Healthy Living, we can all launch a Year of Living With Integrity.  That may mean ignoring the "news" and passing up conventional wisdom for the real thing.  It may mean that sometimes the path won't be clear and your motivation will be less than stellar.  It might mean some hard work to toe a line you'd rather pretend doesn't exist.  But it may also mean that this time next year you'll be able to look at yourself with new pride and without holding up a pillow and glowering through the fringes.  

If nothing else, it may give you a funny story that you can put in a video for posterity. 

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