One of my favorite stories of my husband’s youth involved a circus pony they had purchased for him when he was about 3 or 4 years old. His family all had horses and one day they had gone riding and were stopped at a neighbor’s house where his mother dismounted. At some point, Tucker’s pony “took off” and began running, scaring the begeezes out of him. His mother reached to grab the pony’s harness but missed. Tucker was mortified when she didn’t run after them, but his mom knew that this circus pony, left to its own devices, simply went in a right-leaning circle and so she waited for him to come round again. When he did, and Tucker dismounted, he never wanted to ride again. Indeed, they needed to put him in lessons to counteract the trauma (which of course worked and everything was fine soon enough).
Tucker tells it better, no question, but for purposes of illustration it hits all of the right notes. Tucker’s mother knew there was very little danger, but Tucker did not and in that moment no one could have convinced him. It is funny. Darling, actually. We can all relate to both the mother and the scared child, and to the overall humor of the predilections of this particular shetland (which is also sad, but that’s another story).
In the moment, we take things so. dang. seriously. whether or not objective truths require seriousness. Trauma can occur for one person where humor is another’s response. And trauma requires some intervention to diffuse. Left to his own devices, it would have been a long time, if ever, for him to choose to ride again.
I’ve often used the analogy of life being like a washing machine and the way things really get clean has to do with it going round and round. Things don’t quite get clean just going around once. So, we learn a lesson and think we’ve got it, but life is going to go around and bring it to us again. You know, for practice. Then we (ok, I) get all mad about “I thought I solved this!” and indignant about having to do it again. But I really do recognize that practice is what gains mastery, and so i’ve (sortof) stopped with that frustration: because the cyclical nature is finally perceived as being an advantage, not a mark of not having done it sufficiently the first time. Perspective is everything.
I went through some old journals recently and was surprised to learn that many concepts that have felt relatively new in my unfolding were active in 1999. I started to get disappointed (if it’s new, i have an excuse for not having mastery. if it’s old, man, i suck at this!) and then took heart. At least I’m consistent in my aspirations 🙂