I like it that people tell me stories. Apparently, I have that kind of face. (I never really know what this means.) A woman in the street told me her story on Saturday, of pain, of loss, of redemption, of pride. A veteran of the King’s Troop told me his this morning. It was filled with darkness and there were tears, the pain near the surface. HorseBack has taught me to put away the pity face. I keep my expression entirely still and do nothing but listen. I am privileged to hear these stories, although they are sometimes hard. I think: if the men and women can go through it, the least I can damn well do is listen. I have learnt not to gather the information into a tight ball of sorrow and regret, but to let it flow through me, like a river. The water is sometimes turbulent, but as long as it keeps moving, it is all right.
I see to my mare’s foot, shrug off the cold and the rain, do my HorseBack work, edit my book, have a losing bet. I think of that gentleman from this morning, and all the things he has seen, and wonder that there can be instant communion between two complete strangers. There is a loveliness in that. The story was a sad one, but I am glad it was told, and I am proud it was put into my keeping.
I’m a bit glitchy and scratchy at the moment. It’s the weather, I think. (It’s not the weather, but that will do for an excuse.) When I’m like this, I need one good thing every day. If there is one true thing, then the hours are not wasted. The glitches and the scratches will pass.
This morning, I saw another veteran work a horse in the round pen. It was her first time, and she was uncertain and a little nervous. She did really well, but she came out concentrating on her mistakes, rather than what she had achieved. That will change, over the week, and I know that she and her kind horse will make a fine partnership. I said, gently, a little hesitant, because I don’t like telling people what to do, but thinking perhaps it was worth breaking this rule on this occasion: ‘Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Think of all the wonderful things you did right.’ She blinked. I could see the critical voices quarrelling in her head. I know those voices. I think: I really must learn to take my own advice.
One good thing a day. That’s all it takes.
Here are some good things, which no amount of weather could dim: