Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Joshua Shenk's book, "Lincoln's Melancholy--How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness",just came in the mail. I cannot wait to fully understand every bit of this book. Very few people have the remotest understanding of how sick Abraham Lincoln was all of his adult life. Shenk suggests that Lincoln's greatness may not have come in spite of his illness, but because of it.
It is the 21st century and we expect doctors to be able to cure everything but cancer. When we are sick we expect to get well. Lincoln lived in a time where no one carried such expectations. He seems to have accepted misery as an unwelcome partner.
Were horses human each would qualify for a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. Suffering is not a prerequisite to becoming a great horse trainer, but when one looks at the lives of many of the best trainers one finds such suffering.
That is not a coincidence.
Vacuous and empty headed optimism gets one nowhere with a horse. When one seeks to try to make a horse believe that everything is wonderful and there is nothing to be afraid of one must fail.
The horse knows better.
He lives in a world where every shadow threatens his existence. The horse has fought off extinction because of his flight instinct and fear, not in spite of has flight instinct and fear.
The best trainers do not seek to constantly teach the horse that there is nothing to be afraid of. The best trainers seek to let the horse know that no matter how horrid the experience, it can be overcome by following the trainer's lead.
Perhaps the best trainers, like Lincoln, are those who seek only to persevere, not to pretend.
Posted by Steve Edwards