Monday, October 13, 2014

The Blind Horse

One of our family members has established a reputation for taking in and fostering all kinds of wildlife, and as a landscaper, he comes across a lot. It’s not as if he’s working in an office building. Been there, done that. There are a lot of opportunities in his new line of work. And so, as a result, my cousin has come home to find various rescued animals in their home. He’s the kind of guy who stops when there’s a turtle in the road, gets out, picks it up and carries it to the other side. Aside from him being a Yankees fan, you have to love him. They live in a civilized development, and so they can’t tend to every animal he finds, and so he takes them to his sister who has a farm. This tendency apparently runs in the family. Their family. Listening to all these stories, all I can think of are two words: Lysol Wipes!

As we’re talking, they’re recalling the long list of animals that have made the exodus to His Sister’s Farm, including cats, squirrels, birds, and, oh yeah, The Blind Horse. The what? Apparently, someone had a blind horse, which would understandably be difficult to care for, and the horse also wound up at the Sister’s Farm. His sister has horses (of course she does), and what happened is amazing. One of her horses just naturally became its guide, and the blind horse now follows along behind it. Amazing.
If you Google the term, it turns out that this has apparently happened many times before, sometimes with a goat or donkey being the guide, and it’s also a pretty good name for a pub or restaurant. It almost sounds like an urban - or rural - myth, too good to be true. So, it’s nice to find out that it’s real, and not just some made-up magical story.

There is something else about the concept of a blind horse that resonates with people. Here is an animal that is designed and built to run hard, run fast, and run head first, but can’t even see where it is going. I think about it and then I realize - that sounds like me. That sounds like all of us. We probably won’t be lucky enough to wind up at His Sister’s Farm, or to have our own horse-guide. And so we race about, running head-long into things, and each other, head-first. And maybe sometimes heart-first.
What are the options, after all? To not move at all, to pull in all our appendages tortoise-like into our proverbial shells? As long as we are moving, we are bound to make contact, step on someone’s toes, make mistakes, hurt and get hurt. As long as we participate in this human scrum of interaction, we are bound to get hurt. Our mothers were right: “Someone is going to get hurt!”

How do we become less blind? Less hurt? How do we avoid running into each other? How do we fix things when we do? The map of human history has far more monuments to war than to those celebrating the brief and fleeting moments of peace and harmony.
Step one is to recognize that most conflict evolves from a threat to a person’s innate sense of worth or place in the world. Looking through the lens of a psychologist, such as local author Dr. Donna Hicks, who has made a career of studying the role of dignity in conflict resolution, it is all about recognizing and acknowledging how past and present hurts - dignity violations - predispose people to lashing out at others. Looking through a rugby player’s eyes, we’re all playing injured, with some incompletely healed battle wounds.

In terms of seeing the innate worth in others, Brenda Ueland, perhaps the greatest writing coach in modern time, said it best, proclaiming that “the only way to love a person” is “by listening to them, and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet, in them.” And finally, as we say at the end of each yoga practice: “Namaste,” which translates loosely to something like, “The light in me honors the light in you.”
Maybe there are some guides for the blind horses we are, and these guides may go by many names: psychology, philosophy, religion, sport, art, or yoga. We all just have to find our guides. That we could all be so lucky as to be rescued and taken to His Sister’s Farm.

Hicks, Donna. 2011. Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Ueland, Brenda. 1938. If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence, and Spirit. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press.

The inspiration for this piece came last fall after listening to family stories and hearing Dr. Donna Hicks give a talk about Dignity at Regis College. Stay tuned for Part 2 on “Getting Lost and Getting Found.” Coming Soon – a three-part series on gambling!

© 2014 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life.” If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact the author. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted.  

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