Saturday, May 12, 2007

Feeling Hopeful

I like the title of this post, especially considering that lately I have been feeling rather the opposite regarding my fellow humans. Without going into too much icky detail, suffice it to say that the last few days have been grimy, full of events that make you think that the human race isn't exactly a credit to Planet Earth. For me, this has been doubly true for humans who haven't yet attained the age of majority. While I know intellectually that not all teenagers and tweens are self-centered, spoiled little brats - well . . . let's just say I've spent a lot of time lately grumbling and feeling old about doing it.

Kids - nasty little buggers.

Now, I've often heard that, when you feel sorry for yourself, one of the best things you can do is pick yourself up and go help somebody else. Try that, and Life'll surprise you. Always.

So, today I kept a promise I didn't especially want to keep (tons of work to do, don't you know) and I helped out a friend who was taking some kids to a horse show. Ever gone to a horse show? Especially an "open" show? It's - interesting. Glitzy Western tops that would make Dolly Parton blink are worn next to kids competing in saddle seat attire with long tailored jackets and prim hats and a whole lot in between. And horse shows are not an inexpensive hobby - many of these horses cost more than I paid for my car and quite a few cost more than I paid for my house! And it's hot and dusty and things run late and I don't really remember what to do, and, and, and.

Keep in mind that the kids we were helping were not your typical "horsey" kids. These children are all developmentally delayed due to things such as Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy and the like. They compete while mounted, but there is also a person leading the horse and someone like me, who's a "sidewalker" in case the horse spooks suddenly and the child needs an extra hand to balance.

In the ring, I was overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude, for it hit me all at once what a special thing I was able to be a part of. These kids have to face so much crap every single day for no reason that's their fault. And, to be brutally honest, there's a lot these kids aren't going to be able to do, including just walk around a horse show without people talking about them as if they aren't there.

But (and here's where the story gets beautiful, to my way of thinking), you put these kids on a horse and everything changes. They're the equal of any other human. (At least the equal - plenty of so-called "normal" people are scared to death of horses. Too big, too many teeth and too many stamping hooves.) These kids, who most people treat as invisible and oblivious, are suddenly tall. They're balanced on a half-ton-plus of horseflesh and, for once in the seemingly-crummy hand they've been dealt, they're in control and they know it. They're proud and they're beautiful in their own skins. And a third-place ribbon can mean as much as any Olympic medal.

And maybe I was just walking alongside a horse in a dusty ring, but you know what? I felt pretty damned proud and beautiful, too. Even without a ribbon.

Kids? Best thing on God's green earth.


Mikey said...

Wow, that was an awesome blog. Glad you enjoyed the day after it seemed you originally figured you wouldn't.

It's just amazing that sometimes the people who are dealt the crappier hands in life are the ones who don't show it at all. They are in some ways the happiest people in life, too.

Mockingbird said...

Damn straight. I'm not kidding, I started to tear up in the ring, and I'm not much of a cryer (crier? Whatever.) And thanks for reading!

Stacked Librarian said...

I'm verklempt....and I was even forewarned about the contents of this blog!