A New Chapter

Photo courtesy of Laura Harris.

I started riding at 9. I knew I wanted to have a lifetime full of horses by 10. I pictured Olympic Games, a beautiful farm, and a clear view of ‘success’ that would haunt me for years. Quite simply, it was a vision I chased for … decades. I knew it would take hard work. I never wanted a family, to be rich, to be famous. What I didn’t have in talent, I could make up for in try. What l lacked in money, I could replace with heart. I didn’t have a dream, I had a goal.

Life, however, has other plans. It is wonderfully neutral like that, throwing good and bad at us. And it is up to us to decide what is good and what is bad. Common thought suggests that if you want ‘it’ badly enough, if you work hard enough, anything is possible. But let’s look at the converse, if you did not prosper, if you did not thrive, is it because you didn’t want it badly enough or work hard enough? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Re: Life and its other plans. Choices make us and break us, and we have little way to know at the time which is which. We do our best. I’m not here to say, “don’t try.” Because if you don’t try, you’ll always wonder ‘what if.’ I’m here to say: try, try with all your heart — however, don’t let it break you. Or if you do break, like I have, it is not the end.

I believe there are tenacious people, who overcome no matter what. The people who stir in the rest of us inspiration to continue on. The people who the stories are about, the ones that beat the odds. But no one tells stories about the people who are the odds. Why? Because we all know what the odds entail. The sadness, the struggle, the fear and all the rest that has to be overcome. I’d love to hear about someone who didn’t beat the odds; someone who put it all on the line and lost. Some of us shoot for those bright stars and stumble or fall through cracks instead. Those stories are real and untold. Maybe hearing more of them and knowing life goes on is valuable.

Maybe that is why I write. I write about the things no one wants to talk about, but most of us think about. The feelings that tighten your throat, and you feel ashamed to talk about. Because everyone else looks so happy. They must not understand your struggle. Maybe it’s just me. I like asking questions. I’m learning it doesn’t matter where or why I went wrong, but does it truly matter? It doesn’t come from self-pity, but from trying to make sense of the broken pieces of myself that people have left and didn’t want. But I want myself. So I examine those edges and think of kintsugi as I try to salvage the keepworthy shatterings and create myself anew.

In the words of Joseph Campbell, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” I spent so long trying to make what I KNEW I was supposed to be happen. To chase a dream, to chase a passion. But I’m learning to let go of what I wanted, what didn’t want me back, and see what else is out there. I’ve made peace with the aging of a dream and reawakened my writing with a voice that desires to speak. So many things you think are stupid when you are younger, adult concepts that aren’t worth the time, dawn and you watch your longings evolve to meet the new vision of who you are and what you want. Luckily, I’ve never been afraid to embrace change. It is the salt of life. I suppose it depends on how salty you like your life then.

My current status has put a moratorium on showing, clinics, and other inevitably costly fun. I toil on at my job, and pay down my debt, and love my horses. There is no shame in going to an unsatisfying job that affords you to do what you love and to take care for those of whom you are responsible. My brain wants to trick me, shame me for not being a professional in my first career choice. That I have failed. That I’m not worthy. I would be appalled to hear another amateur speak this way of themselves, but somehow tolerate it inside my own head. But then I remember the most important piece of all: am I being the best rider for my horse? She doesn’t give two flicks of her tail what I am to anyone else: professional, amateur, paperpusher. Those are just words in the end. She only knows what is right there in front of her. Me. I am just hers.