As I wrote yesterday, I don’t have resolutions, but I do have goals this year. I really feel quite absurdly adult every time I write that down. One of them is to improve the blog. Unfortunately, I have no idea how this may be done. I already give it pretty much my best shot, in the time I have and the mental capacity available to me. (As some of the Dear Readers know to their cost, this can be quite limited, especially on the days when the brain goes phhhttt at around tea-time.) I’m not quite sure where the improvement is going to come from.
Yeah, I thought, like one of those old hipsters who still wear jackets with fringes, I’ll snap up my prose and say things about life, man.
I’ll get snappy altogether. I’ll stop winding on and galloping off on tangents and saying the same thing in five different ways. I’ll bring in a bit more of the world. I shall put on my serious hat and address the Matters of the Day.
Most of all, I’ll stop banging on about the red mare. I hope you noticed that yesterday she did not get a mention.
And just this moment I thought: absolute buggery bollocks.
This is not supposed to be a great, shimmering, public achievement. It is the musing of an ordinary middle-aged woman, who happens to have the great good fortune to live in an extraordinary place. It’s not supposed to be life-changing, or profound, or philosophical. If it has a purpose, which I sometimes doubt, it is to raise a spirit, here and there. I swear I have become such a love and trees hippy that I think if I have made one person smile today, then my work is done.
I think: why did I decide that it must be better? Am I vamping for recognition or yearning for compliments or pleading for prizes? I don’t want to be that damn seal, begging for fish.
The lovely thing about a blog is that it is entirely voluntary. This is not your favourite newspaper, where you cannot avoid the idiot columnist who drives you batshit nuts in the head. It is not the prescribed book on the curriculum which you must summarise. If people hate it, they can read something else.
The mare exists here because I love her and I want her recorded. When she is no longer with me, I want to take down this book and slowly read. She is the great life event of my middle years, and she teaches me true things every day.
Today, she taught me something about stillness. I was rushing about as usual, up to HorseBack for work and a meeting, back to my desk with many pages of book to edit, thinking already about what I would write here, trying to catch Scotland with my camera as the most glorious sun dazzled down on the blue land. In the middle of all this, I went up to the field. The mare was hanging out with her little Paint friend, eating her hay and basking in the light. She stopped eating when I arrived, and stood next to me, her head over my shoulder, dozing gently as I scratched the special place on her cheek that is one of her sweet spots.
There have been a lot of articles lately about how mediation can save your life. I can’t meditate to save mine. My monkey mind monkeys around and I get cross and frustrated when I try to still it. As I stood under our favourite tree with my great, beautiful, powerful creature, harmony running from her mighty body to my puny one, I suddenly realised that I do meditate, just not in the usual way. The horse is my existential fulcrum.
She was a study in stillness, even as Stanley the Dog danced about her legs and staged his own running races. We were utterly still, together. She was not thinking about the book she had to write or the email she must send her agent or the time management she must attempt to enforce. She was just being her good, kind self, which is her special subject.
I put my head against hers and thought how people have a single word when they meditate. I chose a word. I filled my busy head with that word. I felt the word run from her self to mine, stitching us together, making us whole.
The word was love.
(The awful thing is I can imagine him doing a Leslie Phillips voice at moments like this. Ding dong.)
And here he looks like a Ten Best Dressed Man from Tailor and Cutter, circa 1959:
It is amazing to me how two such elegant, beautiful mares can sometimes look like a caricature of Farmer Giles:
Watching Stan the Man run his race:
Special Scottish sheep:
The view south over the Dee valley, from HorseBack this morning: