I can’t tell you what it feels like.
I rush to the field to do the herd, have breakfast with the family (The Older Brother and his Beloved are here), and then drive up to HorseBack. Their spring season is swinging into action, which means there is a huge amount of work for me to do. If I did not have a day job, I would spend my every waking moment there, quite frankly.
It’s odd, this kind of volunteering. If you tell someone you are working for a charity, it sounds madly pi and good-workish and holier than thou. Look at me, doing my bit; pin a damn medal on my virtuous chest.
In actual fact, it feels like the biggest luxury in my life right now, alongside the fact that I own a thoroughbred mare. It’s all the things I love the most: good and fascinating people, glorious horses, something that means something in the world. It is hard work, and I take it very seriously, but the pleasure I get from it is such that it feels as if I am getting a vast gift. Every day is like Christmas day.
Also, I learn a huge amount: about equines, and about human experience of which, before now, I was almost entirely ignorant. Sometimes that is very humbling; sometimes it is intensely funny.
For example, this morning, a group of Personnel Recovery Officers were up to see the courses in action for themselves. One of them was a very nice fellow from the Household Cavalry. That would have been enough to send me into transports, since I am utterly obsessed with the Household Cavalry and their extraordinary horses. But the thing that really made me laugh is that he was having a conversation with Paul Burns, a HorseBack volunteer who is up here for a couple of weeks. Paul was a Para, who was blown up in Northern Ireland, and they were discovering mutual friends.
‘Oh, yes,’ they said to each other, of one such. ‘He’s a sniper isn’t he?’ (This alone is a sentence to which my brains responds: does not compute.) Then they talked about various assignments the fellow had tried. ‘Should stick to sniping,’ they said, laughing fondly.
Should stick to sniping is possibly my catchphrase of the day.
As HorseBack really starts cooking for the season to come, I realise that my time management, which is, let’s face it, utter crap, must get polished. Otherwise I shall have to stick to sniping. I think there was a low-level fear that I might not be able to make this new, packed life work. I want to be able to ride my horse, do the HorseBack work, train Stanley the Dog, write my new green-lit secret project, and do the blog. That is quite a lot, for a goofball like me.
As I pondered this, I heard a voice in my head say: Break it down. I remembered the small, potent steps with Red and the lesson I learnt from that. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and decide one can do nothing. It’s all too much. So I sat down to the new project with the intention of doing it in increments. I even told myself I’d just do one hour and see what happened, until I can teach myself to get in a better rhythm. Three hours later, I had 828 new words, glittering on the page. Ah, I thought; that was not so hard.
It’s going to be a long summer. There will be no days off; no holidays; no lounging about. I’m already ruthlessly chucking social engagements. There may be afternoons when I really shall not be able to sneak away to watch the 4.30 at Windsor. But the thing is that most of this work is all holiday to me. I’ll need a bit of iron tonic and a lot of discipline. I’ll need to remember the small steps, and not get panicked. There will be days when I shall fail. Yet I can hardly express in words how much profound satisfaction all this gives. I’m hanging out more flags.
My morning at HorseBack UK:
The very newest arrival, an enchanting Quarter Horse/Connemara cross gelding called Blue:
JURA THE PUPPY:
The incomparably handsome Archie:
The Best Beloveds:
No hill today. No time. Something has to give.
Brain going phut now, so proof-reading was an impossibility. Forgive any howlers.