“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”Gilbert C. Chesterton
For me, Thanksgiving is the holiday of food, fellowship and good cheer. It’s a day where I give myself full permission to sit back and enjoy the things I love the most. When I had a full-time office career (back in my Washington DC days), Thanksgiving meant a day with my horses. Back then, a trip to the boarding barn meant a two-hour round trip (often longer, thanks to DC traffic). To fly down empty roads on a weekday was a rare treat.
Things have changed since then. My commute is a five-minute walk to my own barn. Horses fill my days. They are my office now. My job is all about working with horses, helping horses and taking care of horses. But they are still in my life entirely for my pleasure – for my learning and delight.
The horses have given me much. A circle of personal friends, esteemed colleagues and fellow students – all drawn from the horses and our shared passion for doing better by them. Through the horses, I embarked on a 20-year-plus journey of personal growth – one that brought hard-won insights (both the fun kind and the not-so-fun kind) that I wouldn’t trade for the most luxurious lifestyle.
When I worked in city offices, I was a high-strung, skinny chain-smoker who couldn’t stand still. I was known for pacing the halls restlessly, unable to sit at my desk for long. I raged at all the city things – busy traffic, crowds of people, office cubicles and tiny apartments that couldn’t store saddles easily.
The horses gave me open spaces, hard physical work and unequivocal feedback when I did something less than ideal from their perspective. My revenue suffered deeply (to my husband’s chagrin) – but my lifestyle was enriched beyond measure. I’ve calmed down a lot, under the horses’ tutelage and occasional tough love. I laugh often (usually at myself), thanks to them (I seem to always attract horses who have a twisted sense of humor, much like my own).
There have been prices to pay (as is the way of life). Physical injury. Intermittent poverty. Regret for my many mistakes over the years. Grief at the loss of much-loved personal horses. Poor fashion sense. Weathered hands. Deep laugh lines (which I actually like). Disheveled hair. The list goes on.
The gifts far outweigh the costs. The horses have given me purpose and a zest for lifelong learning. They brought out the best in me (whether I was ready or not). And they demanded more of me, so that my best could grow and become more worthy of their needs.
I will always be grateful to them. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Have a happy and peaceful day, enjoying everything you love the most.