I snapped at someone today. I am very ashamed of myself. I did not say anything rude or unkind, but the tone of my voice was rough and impatient. I try so hard to be polite and I fear I was rude.
This horrid snapping voice tends to come when I am driven into the ditch. It’s a three strikes and you are out deal. I can take the first thing, I can grit my teeth at the second thing, but the third thing sends me into the rude voice. This is not a voice I want to have. It is not my voice, I always think; I am not that sharp, impatient person. Of course I am that person, on rare occasions. I can’t slide out of it so easily.
When you work a horse, you are always thinking about what it really going on. Did she leap in terror at that pheasant, or was it nothing to do with the absurd old bird at all? Had the worry been cooking for a while, and had you done nothing to let that worry out?
So, rather startled by my own flying pheasant, which was that horrid cross voice, I go back to see what was really going on.
Two things I really hate are being told what to do and negativity. Sometimes these come together, in a hideous pincer action, where unsolicited instructions are given in a voice of doom. I want to crawl away into a hole somewhere. I love the answer to be yes. Why not take a flier? Why not try that oddity? Why not cast out into the unknown? Well, say the doomy people, you can’t do that, or that, and that is going to be a problem, and that won’t work, and that’s a lot of nonsense. I am a lot of nonsense. I’m used to being a lot of nonsense. I’ve been nonsense for my entire life and it’s not going to change now. I sometimes can pretend to make perfect sense for short periods if I really concentrate, but nonsense and I are old, old friends. Mostly people laugh at this, kindly, not with too much mockery. Sometimes, they point it out ruthlessly and I feel all the air go out of my antic red balloon.
And because I am crushed and squished and crashed, I stomp my feet and use the horrid sharp voice, in instinctive defence.
But here is the thing. And I really do believe this. You can’t make other people do what you would love them to do. It is not their job to take care of your tender feelings. It’s lovely if they do, but those ones are your three best friends and you great-aunt Maud who understands everything. Most people are far too busy thinking about their own singed feelings and their own lost dreams and their own fragile desires to have much time to worry about your little three-act drama. So the snapping is not only unfair and rude, but irrational and pointless.
A small voice, deep in the recesses of my tangled brain, says: be the grown ups. Roll with the punches, says that voice. Know that you don’t always get what you want. Allow other humans to say what they say and think what they think and then carry on along your own primrose path. Wave and smile, says the wise voice, laughing a little. Every day is not Doris Day.
I called a friend after the terrible snapping incident and she laughed and sympathised and did not judge and disentangled the tangle with wisdom and grace and then told me such an excellent dog story that I almost fell off my horse. The red mare, who was practising for the Standing Still Olympics, flicked her ear back towards me, in easy pleasure. She adores the sound of human laughter.
There are always two choices, I thought, as I sent her into a rolling cowgirl canter. I can lash myself into a frenzy because I was ungracious and sharp, or I can see why it happened and use that knowledge to make it less likely in future. Knowledge is power, as I said to the vet today. I love going to the vet. We talk about Donald Trump as he examines my little brown mare and he understands that it breaks my heart that she is not right and he does not do the empirical dry scientific thing but allows space for emotion. It looks like we are not going to be able to fix her up as we had hoped, but are now in the stage of managing her condition. Although officially I am filled with purpose and hope for this new plan, perhaps I am sadder about that than I will allow. Perhaps that was partly why there was the sharp, snapping voice. Everything has a reason.
Humans are not perfect, I tell myself, sternly. They make mistakes and are not always their best selves. But they can try and hope for better things. That is my resolution of the day. Try for better things. It’s not splitting the atom, but it’s something.