Friday, January 16, 2009

My Humble Opinion


I looked at the photo of the passengers standing on the wing of the US Airways plane as it sunk into the Hudson River in New York City yesterday, and I thought it was the perfect metaphor for what life is like in this country right now. Our plane hasn’t completely crashed and burned, but due to circumstances beyond our control, lifelong plans were aborted, and now we’re standing on the proverbial wing sinking into icy waters. Thanks to the kindness of other human beings, many of us have not drowned, while others have not been so lucky. How many people in this country feel the same way right now? The number grows bigger every day.

Maybe the biggest lesson for us in these turbulent times is that we better learn to be humble. Humility has been out of fashion for a long, long time. The one thing that having horses in my backyard insures is that I am reminded, as J.M. Barrie said that “life is a long lesson in humility”.

As I stood on top of a huge pile of horse manure yesterday, unable to feel my fingers and toes in the burning cold, and turned it with a pitchfork so it would steam and cure into good compost, I thought about how I used to live such a glamorous, hedonistic existence in New York City and California. Those days are so far gone. Would I have preferred at that moment to be eating lunch in a chic restaurant or having a massage instead of standing outside in 5F degree cold? You bet -- but wait, maybe not. The weird part is that I sleep better and have less anxiety than I did back in my urbane life, and I like myself much more now. That's when the thought that I’m fortunate that my horses keep me humble popped into my mind as I climbed down off the poop pile.

I got an email from a friend in Tennessee today who has 17 horses and ponies and many other assorted animals, along with several children. She was explaining what she went through last night to be sure that all her creatures were as warm as possible in weather that was very cold by their Southern standards. I had some consolation that at least I knew a few people who were schlepping hay and chipping ice and filling heated buckets the way I’ve been laboring these frigid days. Most of my friends and neighbors stay in their warm houses and shake their heads, saying, “I don’t know how you do it.”

What else would they do, let the animals freeze and starve? If I drum one lesson into my child, it will be “It’s not all about you, darling.” I think it was St. Augustine who said, “Humility is the foundation of all other virtues.”

11 comments:

Lori Skoog said...

Victoria...it is so interesting that you would talk about humility. When I was still teaching, is was a topic that I discussed with every class. It is a quality that means a lot to me and fortunately our daughters know what it is all about. A sense of community is also important. As has been discussed many times before, most of my friends would not consider inconveniencing themselves with the responsibility of caring for any kind of animal. When you have children or animals or both you put them before yourself and it isn't all about "me." I shouldn't be too harsh, as we all make choices and that is ok. I am very happy with mine, and it sounds like you are too.

detroit dog said...

Amen, Victoria.


I have no idea what the temp is now, but earlier today it was -11 with a "feel like" temp of -24.

I hope you're all keeping comfortably warm as possible over there.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I agree with your thoughts completely. Humility is one emotion more people should strive for in their lives.

Each time I am near my horses I am grateful these majestic animals are in my life and am humbled by the fact they let me share in theirs. Maybe more people should be in the company of horses to learn humility.

C-ingspots said...

I think that learning humility early in life may very well be one of the nicest things one can do for oneself. As I have always been taught and am still learning to be true; a simple and honest life will ensure a happy and long life. Learn that life is all about appreciating what God has done for and given us - the rest we are better off, doing without. And as a dear friend recently told me, "I believe with faith, have no fear". I like that a lot and think it is very timely for us all right now.

C-ingspots said...

I enjoyed reading everyone's comments as well. So true and well said ladies. Amen is right!

deejbrown said...

"Standing on top of a poop pile..." and I "like myself better now..." How I wish I could join you on that hill.

Pony Girl said...

Tonight while having drinks with friends, I heard bad news from each of them. One whose hours are getting cut because of lack of business, one whose family members just got paycuts, and one who fears her contract is soon to not be renewed. It was a realization, close to home, that things are tough. I haven't felt it and as a school teacher I feel fairly secure right now. But...who knows what the next year holds.
Interesting, I heard an anchorman on the news today say that in these times, that plane wreck was actually a bright spot, a piece of good news. Not that the plane crashed, but that nobody died. Your use of it as a metaphor was perfect.
I hope you are having a good weekend and are staying warm despite the temps. The photo on this post was so cute!

LJB said...

When I'm not a little stuck in feeling bad comparing today to yesterday, or comparing current reality to the reality of today I had fantasized yesterday, I'm at peace with what is. One friend pointed out we can look at employment as yikes, 6% unemployment (or whatever the number is) or we can look at it as 94% employment rate. Hey, that sounds good!

I had to change my thinking from "I need a job" to "I want to work more". I have a job. I have several jobs. Are we up to date on all our bills right now? No. Do we have food and shelter and good friends and vehicles and gas money and our health and internet connection? YES!!!

Being humble must be tied hand in hand with being in the moment, mindfulness, acceptance of things as they are. It's a good thing, and available to all. Sometimes more effort is needed to direct the wanderings of the mind, but it's possible.

And thank goodness it's warmer today! LOL

Carolynn said...

Excellent thought provoking post, as usual. As for the poop pile...it's all perspective, dahlin'.

Rising Rainbow said...

Yes, it's interesting how something like that can make us reflect on our lives. What a miracle they all survived. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

Kylie said...

this post is lovely. i agree alot about how a horse can humble someone, the freedom you get from being in the company of such an animal, how nothing (including the cold) matters apart from making this animals life more worthwhile, and how good it feels to be responsible for her.
i miss riding, and i love your blog alot. your horses are beautiful
x