Sunday, March 29, 2020

Real Endurance Potential--Do We Still Have It?

We were riding hard. My granddaughter was riding Naichi, a Chincoteague of powerful build. She was very impressed with his movement and stamina. I asked her if she thought he had real endurance potential.

The beauty of spending time with brilliant young people lies not just in the answers they give, or the questions that they ask, but even more so in the observations that they make.

When I asked Ariyanna about the Chincoteague horse that she was riding, Abigail pointed out that all that I ever seemed to want to know about a horse was whether it had real endurance potential.

I had not thought the matter through, but when she pointed that out I realized that sometime over the last several years I have lost the ability to be impressed by a horse's beautiful color. It's gracefulness as it glides along the pasture does not really catch my eye much now.

The only thing that matters to me now in evaluating a horse is whether or not the horse has real endurance potential. But I don't mean potential as a competitive endurance racing horse. I care nothing for competition of any sort. As I have gotten older I have come to understand that competition is the enemy of cooperation. It breeds selfishness and greed and by its very nature creates a handful of winners and a bucket full of losers.

What I look for in a horse is the potential to endure. Can the horse get the job done? Can it carry you further than you have strength to continue in the saddle? Can it carry you through knee deep swamps day in and day out? Can it graze happily on browse and brush? Can it carry you over deep sand or rough gravel for miles on end while experiencing no discomfort what so ever? Can it courageously carry you past the things that torment the minds of many horses--mail boxes, plastic bags, gnarled tree stumps and roots, wild turkeys flushing under foot, and bears that cross the trails ahead of you?

And can that horse rely on you as much as you rely on it? Can that horse endure because it trusts you to give it the care, direction, affection, and leadership that it must have to be happy?

Lido was born with cerebral palsy. His right arm was of no use to him and his right leg was small and drug along as he walked. By the time he was a teenager he had worked and pushed his body to the point that he could unload two fifty pound bags of feed at a time and could run five miles at a time.

He had real endurance.

I met my youngest daughter Ashley when she was seventeen. She was the victim in the worse case that I have ever prosecuted. She survived her teenage years in a Hell so bleak that as I sit here thinking about what to type I realize that I have no words to give a reader that would give a glimpse of what she lived though. She became part of our family and her legal adoption was finalized years ago. Now she works to help others claw their way out of their own traumatized pasts.

She has real endurance.

Brooke is an emergency room physician and a mother of three spectacular kids. She is in the middle of the scourge that we are facing. She goes out and works putting aside her own safety and comes home and gets her kids out to the horse lot and trains (along with her son, Jenner) two mammoth donkeys and has begun riding horses who have had very little time with a rider on their backs.

She has real endurance.

Our nation has always shown real endurance potential. We have over come hardships. We have striven, albeit too slowly, towards building a just society. I hope that we still have real endurance potential. There are many reasons to doubt that we do. We forfeited any claim to being a moral society when we allowed fear of others to be used to justify keeping children in cages for the crime of having parents who sought better lives for their families.

And now we face an enemy that will test our endurance potential. I find my optimism flagging.  Then I remember that real endurance is fueled by optimism. Optimism is not the same thing as faith. Faith has its role in helping us get through the fire. Its importance cannot be discounted.

Optimism differs from faith in that it hinges on our understanding that, while we are not all powerful, neither are we powerless. We have the power to slow the spread of this contagion. We have the power to help others through this crisis. We have the power to reduce suffering. We have the power to support and encourage those around us.

And there is still a great part of me that is optimistic that we will exert that power.

Since we have no Churchill, we must become our own Churchills.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with all you said. There are two nurses in my extended family and they are both going to work every day knowing that their safety is being compromised. I hope & pray that there are more people like them who feel the way we do. Pretty sad when these politicians & others whose ancestors most likely came here as immigrants can picture themselves as a privileged few!
I do hope we can exert our own power!