Tuesday, July 16, 2013

“The Truth Is, Most of Us Discover Where We Are Headed When We Arrive”

May 20, 1990: Advice on Life from Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson | Brain Pickings

There can never be too much Bill Watterson.

Horses.  Horse life.  Horse training.  Do you really have any control over where you end up in all this?  My considered opinion from the vantage point of 52 years of horse-craziness is a resounding NO!  More to the point, I agree with Watterson completely.  If you're so busy trying to control the outcome,  you're likely to miss stuff along the way.  Good stuff.  Excellent stuff.  Stuff that will make your life richer and your brain smarter and your skin clearer and what-have-you.  Watterson was speaking specifically to recent grads of Kenyon College, but his words ring true in myriad situations.

For instance, "It's surprising how hard we'll work when the work is done just for ourselves."

I know many horse people have a Grand Plan that includes the adulation of their chosen group of important people, and I admit to have been there early on in my foray into equestrianity.  I started out thinking I'd be a jockey and ride race horses to victory with throngs cheering me on.  That was a brief mental adventure when I was around 12 and thought I'd never break 5-feet tall.  But I did.  I thought, then, that I would be Alec Ramsey of The Black Stallion series.  I'd find me a horse and a boat (the main reason, in case my friends were wondering, for my intermittently and with abandon bursting out in song, to wit:  "If I had a boat, I'd go out on the ocean...." ).  That dream didn't come true either.   I thought I'd be a cowgirl....

...and that's about as close to where I am as my dreams ever got.  Owning horses, owning a horse farm, doing all the horse things that a person can do with limited talent and equally limited funds, my dream fell on me when I was least expecting it, and here I am.

Zip is always open to alternative career choices.

But the point Watterson and I are making is that the experiences along the way were not to be missed.  Not all of them were horse-related.  Some of them pandered to my other dream.  I wanted to be a Clinical Child Psychologist (until I found out how much education was required and opted for a psych degree and a lifetime of teaching special ed) because I wanted to fix broken children.  That was a big dream that I would have missed if I'd been totally goal-directed with only jockeying or cowgirling in my sights.

And there were the other jobs along the way that taught me things about the real world.  And there was college and grad school and endless training in multiple fields just because I could.  And writing.  There was writing all along the way.

So, here's the thing.  It's great to have a goal.  And one must never entirely lose sight of those early goals because they somehow are more honest and true descriptors of the Real You than all the add-ons you accumulate along the way.  And your horse-related goals are important because unfocused riders, trainers, and owners tend to be bad riders, trainers, and owners who do nothing better than confuse their poor equine partners.

Have goals.  Have little ones and big ones, and do what you can to reach them, because you'll feel a sense of completion when you do.  But never lose sight of the other stuff around you, the opportunities for change.  Zoom out now and then and see the big picture and let some of the color out there seep into the picture you're painting up close.  You'll be better for it, and in the end you'll have a richer fabric in which to wrap your horse life.

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