The wind drops, the sun comes out, the sky is blue. The fabled storm that is about to blow in feels like a distant rumour. The horses are dozy and soft and happy and the red mare gives me a canter of such grace and poise that I feel like crying with happiness. My friend and I stand in the feed shed filling haynets with the good hay and talk about life and unpredictable humans and small problems and the perspective police. This is the sort of conversation that makes me feel better about pretty much everything.
I go up to HorseBack and everyone is smiling and kind and I make some Marine jokes. It is always good to make a Marine joke to an actual Marine.
Someone said something very kind to me today. It was very simple sentence, but it meant the world to me. She said: ‘You do a lot for us.’ That was all. But it was like an unexpected present or a bunch of flowers. It made me think about how much humans need acknowledgement.
I’m a huge believer in the paying of compliments. It’s not very British and I have to fight against all my cultural instincts of reticence and not saying the thing. I believe in it so much that I wrote a whole chapter in Seventy-Seven Ways about the giving of compliments.
I do believe in them, but I thought this morning that it is the plain acknowledgement, the quiet tip of the hat, that has almost more power. It’s lovely to tell someone they are brilliant or dazzling or talented or clever, but I wonder whether it’s even more lovely to make a simple statement of ordinary fact. You showed up; you helped; you worked hard. I mean: the kind of unadorned statements that show somebody noticed. I mean the kind of sentences that do not need to be freighted with adjectives or hyperbole or gush, but act as little validations.
Everybody, I think, needs to have their passport stamped from time to time. Everybody needs to be seen. Everybody needs to know they are not taken for granted.
It worked for me, anyway. The grumpiness and scratchiness of the last two days fade into the background. Their work is done and they’ve got someone else to bother. The sun is shining, literally and metaphorically. The storm will come, in the night. But we’ll batten down the hatches and steady the buffs and ride it out.