Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Looking the fears in the whites of their eyes.

A long day but a good day.

I thought about the miracles of perspective. Nothing in my small world has changed since yesterday, but this morning I decided to look at the thing differently. Just a little shift of angle can do it. I come back always to: it’s not the thing, it’s how you think about the thing. Today, I decided that what made me feel despairing and beaten yesterday would not overcome me after all. I’ll pick myself up off the turf and walk back into the weighing room with grass stains on my britches and go out and ride a winner, just like AP used to.

In the spirit of this, I did two things that frighten me a little. I read somewhere not long ago that you should do something that frightens you every day. This is too tall an order for me, but perhaps once a week might do it.

I rode the red mare out alone for three miles, on a route we had only taken once before. The very idea of this used to scare me witless and, in a rather gutless way, I made lots of excuses about how we had to stick to the home fields. I’m not sure quite what the fear was, some muddled idea that we might take a wrong step and fall into a ditch or be ambushed by mad bikers or scorched by a careless driver and there would be nobody there to pick up the pieces.

Today, I thought bugger it, let’s go. So we went. And I found that my trepidations fell away and the strange places were not so strange after all.

The second scary thing was that I asked for help. I am absolutely crap at asking for help. I have this bizarre idea that I must do everything for myself otherwise I am somehow failing, as a woman, as a human, as a grown-up. My irrational mind gets very shouty and says that if I ask for help then everyone will laugh and point. My rational mind gets so tired with the shouting that it goes on a cruise and is not heard from in weeks.

Actually, I did not quite ask. A very kind person offered, and I accepted. And it was so brilliant and so dazzling and so revelatory that I whooped for joy. I was in the hands of a fine teacher and I learnt something and I did not feel ashamed of the things I did not know or the things I got wrong but felt proud and happy and capable and as if I could fly. There was something so marvellously comforting about being in the hands of a generous expert. It was like being given hot soup on a cold day or getting an unexpected present in the post or being sent flowers for absolutely no reason.

Face your fears, I thought. Look the fuckers in the whites of their eyes. They are bullies, and bullies lose their power if you confront them and laugh at them and see them for the paper tigers that they are. I’m not sure one can do this all day or every day, because it is quite hard work. Sometimes, an act of will is not enough. But maybe once a week, I thought, take the bastards out behind the woodshed and show them what you are made of. Yesterday, I felt I was made of not much. Today, I felt that perhaps there was a little bit more there than I thought.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, I thought. It doesn’t have to be V for Victory. Whatever it is that you really love, that you put your heart into, that truly means something to you – it just has to be good enough. It might be a little wonky round the edges and it might sink in the middle and it might not look in life like it does in the magazines. It may not make your fortune or get you laid. And it may, sometimes, scare the bejesus out of you. But just keep on trying, and do it with love and conviction, and, whatever you do, don’t give up.


  1. THANK YOU thank you thank you. I'm printing this out and putting it over my desk! Such a dark time, this gives me hope! Thank you.
    Your fan,

  2. Your beautiful post made me think of one of my favorite songs by Patty Griffon "I Don't Ever Give Up'.

    "I'm no kid in a kid's game
    I did what I did, I've got no one to blame
    But I don't give up, no, I don't ever give up
    It's all I've got, it's my claim to fame"

    We must never give up. Thank you for such a moving reminder.

  3. What I really especially love about this Tania is the 'permission' you give yourself (and me) to do it once in a while. There are no rules!
    In the end I am the one who does or doesn't do it. I decide, not society. This was one of the greatest lessons off my life.
    Val Symonds


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