Waking up

Busy:  it’s both commonly bemoaned and universally worshiped, at least in the states. Lifestyle magazines across the board cater their content to their frazzled readership – I dare you to browse the magazine aisle and count the covers that don’t include some headline along the lines of “No Fuss Recipes for your most hectic days,” “Fitness secrets for the busy mom!”– and fast food restaurants have built empires on the backs of our fast lane lifestyles.

I’m busy.

Not that I’m complaining. I am thankful for the job, friends, and experiences that keep me so swamped. However, more often than not, perspective is a whisper, not a shout, and it often goes unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Busy wake up call

Photo Credit: CHPCC.org

Though I’ve been a long time rider, I have not always had the resources to lesson, compete, or own my own horse regularly. The last two years, however, I’ve gotten back in the saddle {Forgive my pun, but I simply had to} and started back at jumping lessons. The major challenges of being a young working adult taking riding lessons again have little to do with riding. Carving the hours out of a day, scraping together the money, and enduring the all-you-can-eat buffet of humble pie that comes along with it: now there’s the challenge. I am swiftly learning that time is the most valuable commodity in my possession, and it’s hard to figure out how to preserve it for the people and things that matter to me.

I often  rush to get to the barn after work,  awkwardly zipping up my tall boots at every red light with one hand while holding a half eaten peanut butter sandwich and steering wheel with the other (yes, that’s what those weird marks on the ceiling upholstery of my car are). Sometimes it’s a mad dash just to get groomed, tacked, and down to the arena. I usually go about these duties in a state of semi-awareness, consumed by the precise location of the second hand on the clock. It’s only when I’m quietly warming my school horse up that I begin to regain full consciousness.

When it comes to real riding, I cut my teeth in the dressage ring. “Ride every stride!” my coaches would tell me, and by God I did, and do. The same principle applies in the jumper ring, and in the life ring. Ride each stride. Live each moment, even if it’s just for a couple hours a day. When I fail to wake from my busy-induced stupor, I fail to ride well. It’s possible probable that I fail to live well, too.

After the ride, when I’m still free from the cloud of “busyness” that will inevitably return, it’s time to settle debts with the school horse. To those who do not know, all school horses are saints, including the naughty ones. Even the hardworking school horses know no concept of ‘busy’; as prey animals, they’re keen observers of their environment. They’re hard wired to be fully present in every waking moment, the lucky bastards, so there is no hustle and bustle in the equine world, unless it’s “OH NO, THAT CHAIR WASN’T IN THAT SPOT YESTERDAY. BETTER HUSTLE MY HAPPY BUTT ACROSS THE ARENA TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE.” {Sidebar: There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that horses talk in all caps, but I have a hunch.}

Maybe there’s a certain craftman’s pride that comes with setting all thoughts of tomorrow’s responsibilities aside and carefully brushing/sponging away sweaty tack marks, currying and brushing the coat to a shine, cleaning and medicating any scrapes or bumps, and checking all four hooves one last time for any rocks or sticks. Maybe it’s just the right thing to do to make sure that the horse that just saved your ass when you got unbalanced is comfortable and well taken care of. Either way, there’s a peace that comes with pausing.

Author’s note: I’m really bad at lifting the busy fog to make time for loved ones and loved things. Are you? If not, please use feel free to use the comments section to share what matters to you and how you make time to truly enjoy it.


4 responses to “Waking up

  1. My family is the most important thing to me. We eat dinner together, homework together, even chores together. That’s how we carve out time for each other.

  2. I’m just going to say WOW! Not only does this make me want to work on making time count but it also make me want to take up riding even more than I already did. I’ve been telling Kevin how much I want to learn to ride when we have the money.

  3. Find a way & do it when you can, Steph! I’d love to have a riding buddy to share war stories with 🙂

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