Archive for March, 2020

In my early 20’s I went to a workshop that gifted me the rubber band theory. It is a simple analogy that says on one side of a rubber band are your desires or the way you’d like life to be. On the other end is the reality of how things actually are. The further apart the two are, the more tension that exists. In order to dispel the tension, we need to bring the two sides closer together. Sometimes that means being more accepting of what is and reorganizing your desires to align with that. An example may be desiring a safari in Africa and yet the reality is your bank account doesn’t have enough money. Change the dream to visit a wild animal sanctuary in the US and know that Africa is in the future. Or an opposite example might be that you are desiring to become a painter and yet have no idea how to even hold a paint brush. A solution may be to take a painting class. This simple analogy can go deep if you allow it to. Trouble is many of us get almost addicted to the feeling of being in limbo, of not taking action.

There was a time in my life when I had a deep conflict that has since been resolved.

The horse-loving gene came to me from both sides—my maternal grandfather and my paternal grandmother. You are either born with it or not. I said that to a friend who likes horses and he thought it implied that people can’t learn to love horses. While I saw his point, if you need to learn to love horses, you weren’t born with the gene. I grew up skiing and enjoy making turns on nice snow. I even lived in the ski town Vail Colorado for almost 10 years. Still, skiing is not in my blood. I don’t wistfully look at snow and think about being on it. When I see a horse, no matter where, my heart swells and I want to say hello. A friend told me about her husband’s resentment towards her horse. She said to him “What do you think, I chose this hobby—spending tons of money to worry nonstop about the health and happiness of a thousand-pound prey animal?” It’s just not something we choose.

Once when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was “a Jockey.” The response of laughter made me feel clumsy and stupid for having had such a thought. I never said it, or even wished it, again. As a kid I read all horse books I could. Anything written by Walter Farley specifically, but any book with a horse on it I was willing to peruse. My grandparents gave me many gifts. The first one I remember loving was a book called “Happy Horsemanship.” Later it was horseback riding lessons. At that time, I felt sorry for myself that I could not have lessons every week, all year round. Instead I’d receive a book of 10 lessons for my birthday and maybe 10 again for Christmas. I also got to go to horse camp for two summers, and my regular day camp had horses as an occasional activity. When I was in college, I was grateful to take riding lessons to fulfill my gym requirement. However, all this horse activity left me…what? Thankful and disappointed—thankful for any horse time, disappointed it wasn’t more. After graduating college, there was a 10-year spell of no horses for me.

It was on my 30th birthday that I remembered the rubber band theory. I had not outgrown the desire to be around horses and it was time to choose to close the gap between my desire and the reality. At the time, 30 felt old and gave me a sense I’d better get moving towards something. So, I bought a riding lesson at the barn I passed every day on my way to work. Interestingly, doing the things we love most often brings out deep-seated insecurities. It seems that the more we want to be something, the more we can see we aren’t all that. Or so it was for me and horses. I rode my first adult lesson in my childhood hunt cap. It was green velvet when most kids had black. (That was my mom’s doing. She liked the way it looked, I wanted to fit in more.) So, right off the bat I felt ridiculous. But kept going. I rode at that barn for years and became close friends with many other horse people there. One woman later told me that I looked like a real rider when I came in with my green cap and confidence. Proving to me, we should rarely believe the way we feel.

Now, 20 years later I have a horse named Tom that knows me as his own. There is no longer tension. At times a new desire creeps in, like wishing Tom were younger and we could go off on adventures. When this happens, I look at situations that may alleviate the conflict between desire and reality, which usually leads to the realization I prefer things just as they are.

In what areas of your life is there tension due to a desire being out of alignment with your reality? What step might you take to bridge the gap? Remember the bigger the want, the more insecurities it may bring up. The feeling of not being good enough is universal, so there is no need buy in to it or believe it’s exclusively yours. Just say, “Wow, this must be really important to me” and go about your plan. While doing this may not immediately bring world peace, you will reconcile inner conflict and that extends out to fill the world with joy.


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