Thursday, 1 September 2016

Balance and flow.

So sorry there has been no blog lately. I’ve been in a maelstrom of work, dealing with a sick horse, keeping up with my HorseBack work, and adjusting to a very new daily routine. In times like this, something always has to give. Just at the moment, it is this poor old blog.

There has been sunshine in Scotland lately, and the dogs race around with joy in the light, and Darwin the Dog hurls himself into the burn for his morning swim. The swimming is a new thing, and he is vastly proud of his moves. Stanley, who is not a water dog, watches with maiden aunt disapproval.

As I learn to school my emotions, to deal with the fact that my mother’s house now has someone else in it, to face the absence of my dear stepfather, I pour all my energy into my book and my horse. I write thousands of words, my fingers bashing over the keys like crazy things. Words will keep me safe, says the magical thinking part of my brain. As long as I have words, everything will be all right. Words are my totem, my touchstone, my church.

The good red mare, who remains ruthlessly healthy as her little friend is fighting ailments on every front, is my other touchstone. I work her and teach her and learn from her and pour all my heart into her. I realise, as I ride, that she produces what the clever psychologists call Flow. This is that mental state when you are doing something which is just on the edge of your capabilities, something that stretches every sinew and every neurone, something demanding and meaningful. The idea is that when you are in Flow, you are as close to human happiness as it is possible to be. All the frets and sorrows fall away, because your mind is concentrated on this one grand thing. It’s a slight paradox: happiness is not the object, yet happiness is the result.

I get that, for two hours, every day. I sometimes laugh, thinking of the brilliant Hungarian who invented the notion of Flow. I’m not certain that, when he came up with the idea, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would have imagined that his theory might end up in a green Scottish field on the back of a thoroughbred mare. But so it has.

In my human life, I’m bashing about trying to find balance. Honest emotions must be honoured, but sometimes one simply has to let things go. Absence must be marked, but self-indulgence is the very devil. Present loveliness must be seen and appreciated and felt, but the missed voices of the past must be heard and cherished. It’s all balance. Sometimes I find the fulcrum I seek, and stand tall. Sometimes I topple over with a crash. I suppose that’s as good a description of being human as any other.

One of the Dear Readers asked where she would find the red mare, who has been officially banished from these pages, although, as you can see, she sometimes does gallop in for an unscheduled guest appearance. (She is very grand, and has ideas of her own, and cannot always be corralled.) She is the beat of my heart, but I understand that not every heart beats in time to mine. And there is only so much beating that the poor reader can take.

Anyway, to answer that question, she now lives here, in a quiet corner of the internet, where those humans who choose to may come to her paddock and feed her metaphorical carrots.

I'm going to take a few more days off, and normal, horse-free service will be resumed next week. 


  1. Your description of "flow" has put a whole new and lovely light on that 60s maxim "Go with the flow".
    I always thought it meant relax, let go and bob along like a cork in the ocean -- not necessarily a calming thought at all (for me)!
    The Flow you describe reminds me of when I've been in art class or simply on my own, totally immersed in what I'm drawing (or painting). It's like a meditation. I am so focused and concentrated AND energized --above all, I am blissful.

  2. Hope all is well. Missing you here but hope you are finding some balance. Love xx

  3. Hi Tania, I have been following the blog for a few years (since before the red mare) and have been enjoying the wide range of posts including those on the red mare!. When I saw that you hadn't posted for a while I wandered over to look at facebook (which I don't usually do as I prefer reading blogs.... which is very old fashioned, I know) and I was delighted to see you have published a book. I have bought my copy, partly because your writing about the red mare reawakened my childhood love of horses, and partly as I think its a fair deal for my enjoyment of all your writing. Anyway, whatever my reasons I am really looking forward to reading it. I hope it is very successful. Helen
    PS I was at the Roscommon races last summer and thought of you and how much I enjoy your occasional racing posts even though I don't know anything about racing.

  4. I, too, hope all is well, especially on reading that one of your horses has been having troubles. Wishing you well.

  5. If you follow Red the Mare on Facebook you will be reassured to see Tania is very busy with horse stuff.

    I miss Tania's previous geekiness and insights into American politics, but I suspect like many of us she has despaired of all that and is concentrating on things she CAN do something to improve instead.

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