As I sit in my friend Cathy’s amazing, abundant garden, I am unable toescape the power that all living things innately carry to grow and expand. Withoutconstant vigilance, this garden would soon overtake the constraints of its boundaries andcause the stones and the walkways to disappear…swallowed up by the space that lifetakes for itself and the movement that it requires. No space – no movement. Nomovement – no life.
It’s so easy to forget the simplicity of this dictum, and it sometimesrequires a jolt to the senses to remind us that we are first and foremost living beings,with an innate and intense need to grow. Just such a jolt helped me to come to my senses,one day long ago.
I remember being in my car, racing from one commitment to the next,maximizing my time by listening to ‘personal development’ audio tapes. I will never forgetthe sound of this woman’s voice as she ran through a check-list of dos and don’ts to makelife more livable. As she neared the end of her list, I heard her say: “And finally,when the horse dies … get off!”
I was startled by the visceral nature of this comment. My body loosenedand responded with a laugh of recognition that came from somewhere deep in my belly. Whatmarvelous advice! And something that I had always known, yet had never given myselfpermission to engage.
It is so easy to lose track of our dead horses: we get caught up in theshould’s and shouldn’ts of life and the endless routines of demands and expectations. Theycould be our jobs, our lifestyles or even our marriage partners, and yet, for whateverreason we’ve talked ourselves into, we continue to try to ride.
We attempt to coax them back to life by telling ourselves that if we’repatient, if we try harder, it will all sort itself out. Or if we’re gentle and unassumingand without demands, it will find the resourcefulness to rally and ride again. We hope andwe pray that this dead horse will somehow, miraculously, rise to the occasion and we’llride off into the sunset. Just like on TV, the purveyor of all good myths and fairy tales.
Or we determine that the horse isn’t really dead. It just needs to rest… take a break … linger. So we find ways to distract ourselves from the waiting …and waiting … trying not to notice that life is passing us by. For many of us, we’restill waiting … .
Sometimes, we tell ourselves all will be well if we carry the horse. Youknow, just in case we’ve been too hasty – it’s just in a deep, deep sleep, or a coma!We know that if we love enough and help enough and give enough, it will come back to life.It’s very wearying to carry a dead horse.
For some of us, our issues are at work. Maybe the job itself … alwayspromises and no delivery. For others, our challenge is the one we married. That first, bigcontract that we signed … forever … so long ago. What we were taught is that once inthe saddle, you can’t change your mind.
For yet others of us, the problem is our lifestyle … the one that wecreated with all good purpose and intention. Yes, we worked hard and gave up a lot alongthe way, often times not only giving up who we were but who we might have become. We tellourselves that there’s no going back … no way to pull the plug … without a sense thatsomehow, doing so will make it all feel meaningless in some way. So we keep digging in ourspurs … and the only thing that’s moving is our feet. Moving faster and faster… andgoing nowhere.
In the next article, it will be time for me to leave you with some finalthoughts … time to consider what life would be like if we were to live it by design, andnot by default. For now, it is useful to notice that before we can reach out and take whatwe want, we have to loosen the vice grip we often have on the current state of our lives.Good advice to pay attention to: when the horse dies, get off!