"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who are you?

There is a new horse and owner at the ranch where I have my own two ponies. She's a nice lady, if a bit chatty, and her horse is a fairly steady-Eddy kind of guy, for a 6-year old. Sure, he's a little insecure about his new digs and trying to decide how to adjust to everything, which in horse language translates to a few spooks and blowups because he's overloaded with information. However...

I've yet to witness his owner actually touch him.

She talks to him. She takes pictures of him. She feeds him carrots by the bagfull. But she won't put his halter on, lead him out of his stall, or kiss him on the nose. She's owned him for four of his six years and has never been on his back. The one time she was handed his lead rope at the ranch, she burst into tears.

In short, she's terrified of him.

She may own a horse, but is she a horse owner?

I used to be a skier. I spoke with excitement of hitting the slopes, picking the intermediate runs, staying out all day in all kinds of snow to see how many times I could take the lift up and take the run down.

Here's the thing: I hated getting dressed for skiing. Hated the prep work. Doubly hated schlepping my skis to the lodge, clumping about in my stiff, Frankenstein boots. Stressed about the lift. Would my timing be off and I'd stumble getting on? Or maybe I'd fall getting off? The only part I truly enjoyed was going down the slope... as long as it wasn't too fast and I stayed in control of my skis.

At some point, I looked in the mirror and said, "I freakin' hate to ski."

I did the same thing with scuba diving. Loved the silence under water. Loved the sights of coral and plant and fishy life. Hated checking my cylinder, hated calculating air and depth and oh-my-god don't get me started on squeezing my body into a neoprene suit that's PURPOSEFULLY cut two sizes too small.

I may have told people that I can scuba dive, but I am no scuba diver.

Part of my desire to be a skier and a scuba diver was that, as a sickly child and nerdy teenager, I was anxious to break that mold and be a tough girl. And part of it, as you can imagine, was that I was dating/married to someone who had expectations of the kinds of things we could enjoy together. I'm wondering what is in this woman's life that makes her want to be a horse owner, when everything in her body is rejecting that notion.

What is it that you only think you do, and why? What would you let go of if you could? What keeps you hanging on to activities you only partially love, hobbies you are bored with, things you do because of expectations but not passion?

Who are you?

By the way, after all these years and all my reincarnations, I am a horsewoman and a writer, a wife and a mother, and a friend. Because they are my passions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean. I've seen a lot of people who owned horses act like that. If the horse SNEEZED, this one woman (perfectly nice woman, btw) would practically jump in the air.

Another woman I knew owned a horse...but was too terrified to clip the lead on her. Sure, the horse was a little high strung, but if you talked to her, she calmed right down.

Anyway, I have a lot of those stories.

To answer your question (which is really wonderful, Gayle), I don't actually know if I am anything I'm not. So to speak. God, that sounds too much like Iago. *ahem* I am a writer, a horseperson, a daughter, a friend, and kind of all around goofball. I'm a photographer, too, because I love it. I only do what I really like, having had brief stints as a singer (which I did love), a soccer player (okay, I was five at the time), and a riding instructor. The last one, I don't really do much anymore.

Great blog, Gayle.

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