Monday, July 08, 2013

Attention! You're not in this alone.

This week's reading matter, Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  This is a must-read for humans with or without horses, because humans and stress and crazy just all seem destined to flow together into infinity (and beyond).

Before you get your fur puffed, let me assure you I'm not suggesting your riding life is a catastrophe.  It's your entire life that fits that description...and your horse's as well.

Now that I've got your attention, let's redefine "catastrophe".  This isn't "catastrophe" in the sense of The Day After.  The world isn't ending, aliens haven't invaded, and you haven't made some monumental error in judgment that left you dazed and confused.  This is "catastrophe" in the sense (to borrow Kabat-Zinn's example) of Zorba the Greek, who described his life with all its many folds and wrinkles as "the full catastrophe".  It's a good thing, not a bad thing.

When you chose to live your life in its current format, which we can assume includes horses, a job of some sort, maybe family and friends, you opted for all of the deviations from control that those add-ons bring with them.  Our innate desire to control our environment is thwarted at every turn by reality.  Reality comes in many forms, including the random event occurrences I've been discussing of late, the zooming in and out of focus, the mess that illness or changes in circumstance bring with, and, of course, the catastrophe that is our horses' lives as well.

Touch the Matrix, child!  There's awesomeness there beyond imagining!

Mentally back up a few dozen posts, and you may recall my harping on the concept of "spheres of reality".  I said then, and again now, that no two entities can ever truly experience the same world, because each entity has in attendace to its point of view a whole history of physical, mental, and emotional experiences that color that view.  Your horse is an entity.  He doesn't see the same things you see, and vice-versa.

So when you chose to tie your life to his, you chose to bring two different catastrophes into meaningful contact.  But how often do you really give you horse credit for having a life of his own?  Do you think about how his day was going before you arrived on the scene?  Are his friends supportive? Is his schedule comfortable?  Does he like the dining arrangements?  And how's that squirrel in the tree working out?

Kabat-Zinn asks that we reduce our stress--the stress we create in abundance by desiring so vehemently to control everything around us--by becoming mindful and actually seeing and engaging with the world around us.  Make it real.  Your horse does.  Pick the Famous Trainer you like and take his or her current meme into your heart.  Horses Never Lie.  Horses Don't Misbehave; They Merely Behave Like Horses.  Horses are Made to Be Horses.  There are plenty of them.  What they all have in common (and it's most likely the viewpoint that pushed those trainers at the top of the heap) is that they ask that you look at the whole horse and the whole situation before you jump off the cliff into the Sea of Stupid that seems to surround the horse world.

Appreciating your own catastrophe is hard.  Opening your mind to the possibility that whatever thwarted your plan or upset your apple cart was actually an opportunity requires a level of introspection that is hard to attain.  You may not be able to zoom that far out all at once. Appreciating your horse's is harder still since he doesn't even have the same language and thought processes (much as we love to pretend otherwise).  That new foal lying on the ground feeling up the world around him is not a "little man" who is just "sooooooo cute!"  He's a four-legged prey animal meeting the scariest moment of his life head-on.  Appreciate that for what it is.  He's got legs he can barely find that have to work together right this second, teets to locate, and noises and smells that beggar his nascent imagination.  That he doesn't swoon in a panic is surprising.

Take your time and recognize that you are blending two (or more) worlds, and try to zoom out far enough to see them both and how they might best be put into concert with each other.  It's an effort that can't possibly be wasted.

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