I was conversing with a friend recently and we were talking about being at the top of a pillar – of being one of the best of the best, the créme de la créme. My experience with trying to get there in the past with this has been rather unsavory and I attracted a lot of false individuals. As it was, I associated these individuals as the only result of being one of the best and so reacted negatively. Many businessmen I’d met when younger appeared strange to me. The masks they were gave me a not so good feeling inside and as I grew older I learned to detect some of their transparencies. Over time I started changing from wanting to be great at things I enjoyed doing to not wanting to be associated with the same negative context. I still wanted to be great but maybe if I was not that great I could avoid such unsavory situations. However, later that day the discussion kept rolling through my mind. At first I thought it was just becoming a silly obsession and distracted myself with work. It turns out it wasn’t so much an obsession as that my mind was turning over a new idea and making a connection with another notion. What was the other notion?
When I’ve been around horses I’ve been in many different states of being. Sometimes I’m coming in upset, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes lonely, or bursting with happiness. Every time I learn something from the horses I’m around. I can recall in particular one horse I would visit often when upset in high school. All I would have to do is walk away from the situation, out the door and across the field to my neighbor’s property. There lived a gelding I could visit and ride whenever I was able (though I didn’t take advantage of this nearly often enough). In these situations the pink skinned appaloosa would lift his head, still munching part of his day’s grazing, and greet me with a cocked head and a whinny, the horse equivalent of “Hello, friend, it’s good to see you!”
He was an older pal but he recognized me when I visited (even in long breaks attending college) and did not expect me to bring treats. Instead he would greet me, wait to see if I was there for feeding time or a ride and, if I was not in mind of either activity, returned to grazing. When I was upset I leaned against his near side shoulder and listened to him chew. Of course he’d nibble the area clean and then move to the next spot. I followed along, still leaning on or touching his shoulder, listening to him breathe. Occasionally he’d sigh, or snort but just by letting me spend time with him like this I felt he was saying, “You know you can come to me any time. Bring me your problems, I will help you sort them through.” I’d tell him about my day, things that bothered me, ways I’d tried to fix this issue that failed. Sometimes I’d sing a song or read a book I brought along. Then sometimes I’d say nothing at all. On those occasions I realized that my problem was trivial and sure enough, six years on, I have no idea what half of those problems where. Often I would locate a treat for him (he loved the Spanish Moss) or brush him down in thanks before leaving.
The thing about the horse is s/he will not care if you are pudgy or skinny, curvy or straight, short or tall, young or old, clean or dirty. That animal will look at you with everything they have and see what is going on inside of you, under all the make up you could cake on they will see you. The horse hair left on my clothes was worth the pseudo therapy session because no matter what I knew he was listening to all of me, my body language, my voice, my breathing, no matter what I looked like, what height I was, and whether I was wearing glasses or not. He accepted all of me and in the end that’s what good friends will do – even people friends!
Those friends will encourage you, help build you up when you’re struggling not to fall, and smack the back of your wrist when you’re being silly. These warmer people will be standing by with a hug, game night, movie marathon, trip plans, or whatever you need on a break. Sometimes it will not be just friends leading you up but also people you mean along the way in life, like the sixth grade teacher who points out qualities you have and encouraged you to pursue what you liked, or the coworker at that job you use for support who shares opportunities they’ve heard of employment in the areas you practice off the clock. Maybe you’re a late bloomer and discovered your passion dropped in your lap from a place you least expected. Turns out that there are many sides to climbing a pillar and you can learn to approximate the people you meet and tell the difference between the ones who are just in there to rip you off and take advantage with a plaster smile, and those who burn by a fire in the metaphorical heart.
So after this lengthy period of half-thoughts half-feelings, I came to a different conclusion: Just because you’re up on the proverbial pillar doesn’t mean you have to dwell on everyone else’s expectations of you. Who’s on that pillar? You are. That’s right, you. Let them fuss. If you decide the pillar you’re climbing or standing on is not the one you want then slow your climb and build wings with the other. When that wind current comes you’ll be ready to take flight in the direction you want to go. Don’t worry too much. You’ll do great~
I may compile and publish these little horse-related episodes in small pamphlets as a type of self-help project. What do you think?