Sunday, June 10, 2012

Having A Fever Clears the Mind For Serious Thinking

Hate to see any horse described as a "prospect." Horses are not "will be." Horses are not "was". Horses merely "are." Of the myriad of lessons that one can learn from horses perhaps no lesson is more important than to live in the moment.

I have been ill and very weak lately. I expect to be well soon, but I do not expect to be strong. Since I was old enough to give it a thought I have always taken comfort in knowing that unless I was in a room full of college athletes I was likely the one of the strongest people in the room. At age five I could walk around with an 85 pound anvil in my hands. When I was fourteen years old I bench pressed 250 pounds. I have not been a violent person since I was a kid playing ball. Although I do not recall striking anyone in anger in over thirty years it was always a great comfort to me to know that if things really went bad at the end of a brawl I would likely be the one standing up.

A few years ago I was lifting a weanling up that could not get to his feet on his own. A terrible jolt went through my arm. My right bicep tore long and deep. I should have gone to the doctor for that one. Now there is just a big dimple where the muscle used to be. It does not hurt but it is weak.

But that only explains the arm. The rest of me is weak also. It is weak for a simple, permanent biological reason--I am 52 years old. Maybe strong for a 52 year old, but that is still weak.

The good news is that it does not matter. I feel sorry for those that worry so much about aging--the botox, the hair dye, the facelifts--the waste of it all.

For many fear of aging is really simply fear of death. I have an unusual relationship with death. When I was 19 I was misdiagnosed with Lou Gerhig's disease and given a rather short life expectancy. It took a while before that misdiagnosis was cleared up--a few odd weeks. On the other hand, men in my family that do not drink or smoke tend to live very long lives and are often doing right well at age 90. But Lido was 17 and as strong and healthy as a teen could be when he died. The correlation of age and death does not come naturally to me.

This unusual collection of experiences has given me a different perspective on aging and what it means to be "old." It irritates me when people ask me how old a given horse is. The problem with the question is the inherent assumption that the answer matters. Horses do not have regular "ages." Horse's come in three ages--too young to ride, too old to ride, too wonderful to leave in the pasture without riding.

Comet is likely in his mid teens. If my life depended on getting 100 miles in rough terrain, I would pick Comet over many younger, better conditioned, more athletic horses that I have.

You see, Comet is old enough. He is old enough to know that what ever spooked him is not dangerous enough to run us into something that really is dangerous. He is old enough to know that he would be best off if he looked before he put his foot down if he did not know what was on the other side of the log. He is old enough to know that if I say that it is ok to cross that water we can do it.

I am too old to be strong. I am old enough to have a slew of young people that would love to tote whatever it is that I need toting. I am old enough to know what will merely be difficult to tote and what will hurt me if I try to tote it.

In short, Comet and I are at just the perfect age.

We are both "now years old."

(Here is a shot of Bonnie Gruenberg and two fillies that we produced in the offsite breeding program. Bonnie is the perfect age to ride a wild Corolla stallion through pitch darkness at a very brisk pace. That is not a bad age to be)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Steve, I enjoy your blog - especially because I am "up there" - farther than you! I no longer "have" a horse - he was put down 11 years ago - miss him every day. Boy, how he could have benefited from your teachings-well I could have benefited honestly-and from Joe Camp's info. Hang in there - hope you feel better soon. I'll keep on reading-up here in NY. Maggie