Author’s note: I’m not sure whether this makes any sense or is much to the purpose. I wrote it instinctively, without thinking, after long hours of editing and rewriting my book, my brain blank and empty from the effort of concentration. I’m going to leave it, as it came out, and hope it means some small thing.
Work is the answer.
Work is the resumption of normality, the balm for the troubled mind, the bulwark against uncontrollable events.
This morning, I worked my mare, steadily, and with concentration. She repaid me with sweetness and softness and willingness. My heart expanded in the golden Scottish light.
I worked my book, and that too seemed to respond as if it were an animate thing. It rose to my fingertips, as they tap tap tapped on the keyboard. My mind was active and engaged.
I’m sometimes not quite sure where my work ethic comes from, and then I remember my parents. My mother taught me that a tired pony had to be bedded down and fed a lovely warm mash and brushed off before I could come in and have my own tea. If we were lucky enough to have ponies, we had to look after them well. That was the deal.
My father rose before dawn every day of his working life, and mucked out three racehorses and rode out two lots and fed and watered and settled his good equine companions. He is remembered for being a roisterer and a boisterer, but at heart, he was a worker. No matter what he had been doing the night before, no matter how many songs he sang or drinks he drank, he would be up at five-thirty and would walk out into the dark, to see to those horses. They gave him speed and strength and heart and honesty, and he gave them the care they deserved in return. That was something he taught me without ever saying a word. It is the legacy he left. It is one of my truest things.