Horse Talk

When I was a young man, even as boy, I had a horse.  I enjoyed riding horses with my friend.   In those days, TV shows like Bonanza and Gun Smoke were popular, so riding a horse for me put me in the same league as “Hoss” or “Festus.”

Our family farm is adjacent to a horse boarding business, so I get to see beautiful horses and their caring owners.  This past week, my daughter observed my grandson making friends with a couple of horses.  He is two, and the horses are about 14 hands tall.  He looks up to them, observing them without fear.  They look down to him and are thinking, “I wish they stayed small” or “Is he our owner?”  OK, so I’m no horse whisperer- even though I look an awful lot like Robert Redford!

Horse1 Horse2

It’s amazing to me that bond between children and animals.  I think they speak a secret language and there is a special respect (usually) that the animal affords the little one.

My love of horses is a bit guarded.  My horse growing up would have to be coaxed with a hat full of oats to come near enough to put a bridle on her.  If she put her nose over the hat and found it empty, she would whirl around and try to kick me.  If I didn’t have any oats in my hat I had to move in fast or be kicked.  When riding her, she would sometimes try to rub me off on the fence line.  Any wonder why her name was Spooky.  She was albino white with blue and pink eyes.  Even so, the experience was great and I loved my horse with all her foibles.

What a wonderful world we live in, where the opportunities of communing with nature and its beasts are afforded to those of us with opposable thumbs.  What a fun experience to observe the little ones getting their first glimpses of animals as they try to communicate with them as only a child can.

Now I have to teach my grandchildren all about electric fences.  I’m still pondering how to do this.  If you have any suggestions, let me know.

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Severe Turbulence Ahead

“This is your captain speaking. Air traffic control has advised us of severe turbulence ahead.”

This comment brought me out of a nice nap. As a pilot, I know the difference between light, moderate, and severe turbulence. Severe means “momentary loss of control,” something no pilot- and certainly no passenger- wants to hear.

severe turbulence ahead

We all waited for the barn doors to be blown off. Thirty eight thousand feet between my lightly padded seat and the ocean below.

This got me to thinking; how often do we simply put off corrective action- things we ought to do, preparations that are needed- because the skies are pretty smooth sailing at the moment? Yet in the moment we face a time sensitive deadline, perhaps inevitable, we bring to bear all of our faculties to win the battle at hand.

Ironically, I was naturally reading up on raising beef cows when this announcement came (just before I dozed off). The author was talking about all the ills brought on by the “pharmaceutical farm” and asked, “Since when has man been able to fool nature?” This was followed by the warning, “nature always bats last.”

I prayed this was not an omen as I pictured the 777 being swatted out of the sky. I sat tensely for the thirty minutes the captain said we might be hit. A long thirty minutes.

Then with a ding of the bell, the seat belt light went off and we all breathed out a sigh of relief.

There are areas of our lives that we can both prepare for the unexpected and adopt measures of planning that make the coming storms or challenges (the inevitable) a space of peace, not necessarily a moment of terror. I do believe we inherently receive the warnings “severe turbulence ahead.” There is a peace that comes through listening to that voice within and preparing in advance for what lie ahead.

While some turbulence cannot be avoided (nature always bats last), the modicum of Think, Plan, Do (see prior blog), seems better than simply “Fasten your seat belts.”

This experience was a reminder to me to keep focused on things that matter most and to not put off needful preparations.

Pressing Forward

As another year opens, I am reminded about this wonderful process we call “life”. It has a beginning and an end; it consists only of memories, the present, and the future. Our daily journey is marked by time.

For many years, I collected the shoes of our children as they grew. When they retired a pair of shoes, they took their place on a shelf in my office.   During a move from one house to another, the box of shoes went missing, and I only have a couple of the pairs left.

I thought of this over the holidays when I observed another line of shoes of a grandchild, placed on a window ledge by his mother.

PressingForward(2) PressingForward(1)

The shoes pictured in the window seal await action; they will be filled shortly, and depending on the weather and occasion, will mark progress. The pair shown on the stair banister is all I have left of the kids growing up years; these shoes will never be worn again, but hold cherished memories of what was once laughter, action, perhaps even chaos.

Another beautiful consideration of the children’s shoes is the bright eyes and innocence they represent. New steps, every trail is a brand new adventure, the scars on their toes indicate the path was not always rosy, and required a few bumps and bruises to blaze the trail. Still, they bumbled their way forward with faith, and without fear or reservation.

I want to look at 2015 like this. We will enter many pathways; hopefully all pointing in the right direction; though not without some risk. There will be challenges that may leave a scar or two, but in the end, we’ll grow into and even out of our shoes; re-shod our feet and keep moving on. I hope we can find the freshness of innocence as a child as we embark on new frontiers.

Press Forward is a term I love; so let us be about embracing the journey, remembering the lessons of the past, but still seeking new adventures, relationships, meaning and purpose. Happy New Year 2015!