Mar 24, 2022
4 mins read
I slept last night! This is headline news in this house. I had eight whole hours and I am sitting here luxuriating in that beautiful fact. I am dreaming of another eight hours tonight and who knows whether that dream might not come true.
In the meantime, I want to talk to you about one of the old fellas. He’s actually not that old, only seventy-one or something, but he’s got this air about him of having been on the earth for a very, very long time. He’s got old enough so he really doesn’t give a fuck. (I love that moment, and keep eyeing it jealously, longing for it to happen. I’m not quite there yet. Give me a little more time.) He doesn’t care what people think of him or say about him. He does want to pass some of the wisdom he has learned in life on to the world, and he does that on Facebook.
He’s a horse man and he writes a lot. I mean a lot. Sometimes two posts a day. I don’t see very much stuff on Facebook at the moment - I’m going through a phase where I just don’t have time for long and winding and badly paragraphed stories - but I somehow always see his stuff. And I pretty much love all of it.
And I’ve been trying to think about why he is so good and why he always hits every single nail on every single head and why I’ll always stop and read him when I don’t have time for anyone else.
I think it’s because he does have a lot of wisdom, but he wears it lightly. So what he is saying is truly valuable. He’s not just clicking his teeth or looking for likes.
I think it’s because he writes exactly as I imagine he speaks. You can hear his voice, ringing true. I could find myself starting to read halfway through one of his posts and I would know it was him. (This is why I go on and on with my writers about finding their own voice.)
I think it’s because he says what he wants to say and gets out. There’s no grandstanding or showboating or throat-clearing. There’s no flannel. He gets in and gets out, with no fuss.
I think it’s because it’s gloriously clear that none of this is about him. He’d like as many horses as possible to have a better life, so he’s sharing all the mistakes he made in the hope that other people won’t have to make them. He is on the side of the horse, and I love that.
Anyway, he said something so wonderful and wise today and I want to remember it so I am writing it down. He was talking about what happens when you have a bad day with your horse and he said you don’t have to go right back the next day and have the same argument.
This sounds very simple, but it’s not straightforward.
I read about quite a lot of horse people who do this, the going back and having the same argument. They get fixated on finding the perfect canter or whatever it is, and they go back and back and wrangle and brangle with their horses until everyone is miserable. The weird thing is that they might actually find the canter in all that, but it’s not going to be a beautiful, willing, easy canter; it’s going to have fury and miscommunication and recrimination in it. (But that is a whole other story and don’t get me started on that.)
The point is that my old horse fella said something so lovely that I am going to think of it always. He said, ‘So you had a bad day? Join a big club. But now, try not to have two bad days in a row.’
Try not to have two bad days in a row. I don’t know why that feels to me like one of the official Answers to Everything, but it does. It’s so human and so humane and so true. I love that it’s got a ‘try’ in there, making it an encouragement rather than an imperative. I love that it accepts that all human beings have a bad day. I love that it carries the hopeful implication that we humans don’t have to get stuck in our bad days or defined by our bad days or reduced by our bad days.
I love it, that’s all.