Author’s note – warning for incoherence.
Sometimes I sit down and let my fingers run over the keyboard and something comes out and I’m not at all sure what it is or whether it makes any sense. I’d love to posh it up and call it stream of consciousness, but I can’t. Never mind. It’s Friday. You can always scroll down and find a nice picture of an eternal hill.
Here it is, the absurd old bulletin, for better or worse:
I know it may seem that my head is almost exclusively full of horses, but I do think a lot about humans too.
I like humans. It might seem an odd thing to say, but not everyone does. Some people have little faith in human nature and are always braced for the worst. I am not saying they are wrong. They may be empirically correct. I may be naive. I choose to expect the best. I must admit, I do always get a little shock when I find someone is charmless or dull or narcissistic or venal. I mostly expect humans to be kind and interesting. A distant voice from my childhood calls: it’s so much nicer to be nice. This sounds fabulously platitudinous, but is in fact true. If you are smiling and polite, people will generally smile back. Courtesy is the sister of empathy. Any moral considerations aside, niceness, such a humble, overlooked virtue, has the wonderful advantage of utility: it eases one’s passage through life.
I admit to some wish thinking in all this. But I do maintain that most people are mostly good, otherwise the whole world would exist in a state of feral lawlessness. No police on earth could contain a raging humanity.
I was contemplating all this because, for some reason, a list of attributes was running through my head. I was thinking of complexity and contradiction. Someone who can, in one moment, be bold and strong and fine, can, the very next, crack into hopelessness. Brilliantly clever people may have moments of profound stupidity. The cheerful can tumble into elephant traps of melancholy.
This week, I was thinking, people have been: funny, good, courageous, intensely irritating, self-effacing, thoughtful, generous, overbearing, wise, pompous, self-regarding, interesting, kind, and selfish.
There they all are, the human adjectives, jostling up against each other, changing like the weather. How lovely it would be to behave well all the time, and listen to the voices of one’s better angels, and be rational and reasonable and sane. I think it’s important to try. (You know I love a trier.) But everyone will sometimes stumble and fall. Part of the reason that I do think about horses so much, and write about them, and love them, and feel grateful for them, is that they have so much authenticity. It is contagious. When I am with Red, I glimpse my best self. You have to rise to a horse. It does not understand justifications and excuses. It takes you as you are, in that moment, and reflects that back to you. Equines are like looking glasses of the soul.
What horses crave are the quiet virtues: patience, thought, care, slowness, gentleness, steadiness, reliability. They do not require brilliance or wit or a Nobel Prize-winning cerebral cortex. They disdain flash. They want to know, most of all, that they can trust you, and that you will keep them safe. Red needs to be sure that I shall keep her from mountain lions. It has become one of the most important things in my life that I can be that person. It’s a lovely, daily challenge.
My favourite hill, Morven:
The mighty man that is Stan:
The brave daffodils, buggering on even though today we are having sudden blizzards:
About four miles north-west from my house, the colours are singing:
The little Paint and the red mare, having a pick out in the set-aside. They are convinced that they are finding spring grass:
Herself. Can you not sense the goodness and trueness shining out of her like starlight? Sometimes it is so powerful I can feel it like a moving thing, as if it is an actual force, out there in the world: