In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

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.

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16 responses

  1. You have your head on straight girl! Way to go. If you don’t reach a certain number of miles with a particular horse , you have not failed…you have compassion for the animal that has given you enough…and that is good. As usual, I love your writing style (and the message of course).

    February 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    • Hi, Lori. 🙂 It’s always good to hear from you. I so appreciate your taking time to read, comment, and ask important questions (like the one about the morality of endurance riding).

      February 17, 2013 at 7:18 am

  2. Kristen

    I love this post. It is so true – not a moment was really wasted if you enjoyed it, or at least learned something from it along the way.

    February 16, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    • Exactly, Kristen! It’s easy to let the lens of “what we know now” to cloud the joy of “what we knew then,” but the good times were good times in and of themselves. I intend to keep seeing them that way.

      February 17, 2013 at 7:17 am

  3. John

    I echo the previous comment about your writing – it is a joy to read. Having spent too much of my own life focused on the goal, rather than the journey, I couldn’t agree with you more: claim the treasures of your past.

    February 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    • Hey, John! I surely appreciate you sticking around during the slow periods on my blogs, and your thoughtful comments. Thanks. 🙂

      February 17, 2013 at 7:16 am

  4. Kathy

    Tamara, so very beautifully said. Yes, your reaction is common and yes, it is a failure of perspective. The same thing happened to me as my career accelerated towards my “planned” future, right before the bottom fell out. It often feels like the whole thing was a failure. You so wisely express why it wasn’t. Your writing is soulful and sublime. Thank you.

    February 16, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    • Thank you, Kathy. Sometimes the most valuable thoughts are the ones we’ve already had, but not put into words.

      February 17, 2013 at 7:14 am

  5. cg

    What a beautiful post this is. I enjoy your writing very much, and all so true.

    February 16, 2013 at 9:12 pm

  6. Aemi

    A mirror to my own sentiments…Beautifully written Tamara.

    February 17, 2013 at 8:38 am

  7. I am so glad when you post a blog entry. You have a beautiful writing voice!

    I echo your sentiments here about enjoying and recognizing the journey instead of being so mono focused on the goal. There are many, many nuances you can miss if you make the answer to “did I reach my goal?” a simple yes or no.
    You rock!

    February 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

  8. Just remember, it’s the journey . We set goals, things happen, we set new goals, we adjust and we continue. It’s not good or bad. It just is. It’s all about growing and learning. I think one of the greatest gifts endurance has taught me is knowing when enough is enough. Kudos to you to do what is right for your horse. Not every horse owner/rider is out for the best interest of the horse. So, what’s next for Cons?? She’s too nice to just sit and be a pasture muffin!!

    February 19, 2013 at 10:13 am

  9. I needed this today. Thank you for the thoughtful and pertinent message. Thank you ….thank you.

    March 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm

  10. Pingback: Rider Option | The Barb Wire

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