The Waste that Wasn’t
I rode Consolation yesterday. It was her first outing since I laid her off at the beginning of last summer due to her undiagnosed, but obvious, discomfort under saddle. We jogged six miles in the sunshine. She felt good. Content.
But not like an endurance horse. Never one of my most driven mounts, she felt distinctly disinterested in speed and distance. I doubt I’ll attempt to condition her this year. Or ever. She gave me 875 endurance miles, plus countless more in training. That will have to be enough.
Here is the dark side of being goal-oriented. I struggle to give up on this mare. On anything. It is easy to forget, when I fail to reach my destination, the views I enjoyed along the way. My reaction is common, I suppose. It is also a failure of perspective.
Consider this: What is the destination? When does effort become achievement, striving morph into success? Is it at 2,000 AERC miles? 5,000? If I retire a horse at 1,655 miles, have I somehow failed?
If a career path fizzles before I reach the corner office, was my experience wasted? If a relationship crumbles after three years, or five, or ten, have I thrown away that time?
Yes, I am older now. Yes, it takes effort to update my resume, go out and date, start a young horse, shoulder the effort and face the fear of starting over, starting new.
But see the good times had, the completions earned, the accolades received, the scars that strengthen! They don’t vanish because the path on which I found them ends in a cliff. A journey abbreviated is not a journey obliterated. The treasures I claim are mine to keep.
Don’t waste the litter of your past. It gathers about your feet like shale tumbled down a hillside. Step up on it. Feel it shift beneath your soles, and climb.
The last stanza of the poem from which my farm takes its name reads thus: Nor doom the irrevocable past ~ As wholly wasted, wholly vain ~ If rising on its wrecks at last ~ To something nobler we attain. [H.W. Longfellow]
Squint against your tears, my friends. See the shining? Reach out. Take hold. Climb.