Today, I wrote 2169 words of book, and then spent the rest of the day collating and editing the HorseBack photographic archive. I take my job as keeper of this very seriously, and since I take a stupid amount of pictures the work never seems to end. I am so busy that I have not even put any photographs of the red mare on Facebook. (An old friend was so disturbed by this that he actually sent me a message about it.) Handsome Stanley the Manly sits patiently waiting for his close-up, in vain. It is always a sign that real life is overwhelming me when I do not plaster my animals all over the internet.
Although, oddly enough, this has coincided with some musing on the dangers of seeking external validation. This has been my thought for the week. It is always enchanting to get compliments or words of encouragement, but I recognise flashing danger signs when I find myself craving those little thumbs-up signs from the Like Button, or searching my inbox for comments on the blog. The crosser and more fallible of the voices in my head start shouting: TELL ME OF THE BEAUTY OF THE RED MARE. Or: admire the noble face of Stanley the Dog, dammit. At which point I have to take a very deep breath and do some internal housekeeping. In this way, the internet serves as a rather clever barometer of the sturdiness of my sense of self.
I suppose what I think is that one has to construct the self from the ground up, putting brick on brick, making sure the foundations are well laid. In this way, it will not fall down when the first gust of wind blows. It is your job, nobody else’s. Then, if someone from the outside should come along and be kind or generous, give a compliment or offer encouragement, that serves as a happy bonus, not a craved necessity. The moment I feel as if I am one of those performing seals, clapping my hands for fish, then I know that I need to go back and address the fundamentals. Neediness is never an attractive trait, and I guard sternly against it.
It was quite interesting, as I was thinking all this, that I went off the internet for a while, simply because there was too much else to do. It made me realise that I can get a little addicted to the small moments of applause that come flying through the ether.
I think that there is a lot of loveliness on Facebook, and Twitter too. There are people there who celebrate the triumphs of others as they celebrate their own, who understand about the flush of joy that very small victories bring, who give kind sympathy when everything goes smash. There is the balm that is: Me Too.
At the same time, it can encourage the peril of instant gratification. Love me, love my dog, my mare, my garden, my small green patches of moss, sings the siren song of the needy voice. Stepping away is not a bad thing. There is time to work, breathe, think, steady, and bolster one’s own resources. There is time to take stock, and regroup.
And, shouts the voice that likes to do a tap dance at the drop of a hat, time to come back better than before. That voice has not quite got the memo.
Only time for one picture today. The family, gathered for the great celebration of the Younger Niece’s 21st birthday, have dispersed again. But before they went, the Older Niece took this lovely shot of me with a sweetly smiling red mare:
Despite my strict note to self about not doing the jazz hands or performing the tap dance or begging for fish, I can’t resist putting up a link to the HorseBack collection I gathered today. As always, my photographs are not technically accomplished or professional in any way, but some of them do capture a moment. It is that capturing which makes me happy.