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June 9, 2015: Big Defeats and Small Triumphs

In a recent blog post, writer Jon Katz wrote about what he calls “big defeats and small triumphs,” both of which he said “have enormous spiritual implications for me.”

The big defeats (he said) are the most painful. Examples abound and include the death of a family member, the loss of a job, the denial of a book contract. Furthermore, we want the inverse of these things so badly, that is the big triumphs. Some of these include publication of a best seller, the lottery win, unconditional love of family members. Katz acknowledges that most likely we aren’t going to get the most coveted big triumphs.

Small triumphs, according to Katz, are what make life worth living. His examples include seeing his dogs successfully herd sheep, his wife Maria’s

having sold a piece of artwork, getting a new puppy, getting a pony.

In my case, the small triumphs, even those in a given day, are seemingly infinite. The trick is to make note of them and acknowledge their importance. My day today was filled with small triumphs – and as I am writing, I am celebrating them. The day started with my working on centered riding administrative. Centered riding clinic number one is full. A second centered riding clinic soon became a distinct possibility. I emailed Susan Harris, who said she’d do this. I then emailed Brit Lively, who said that her and Gregory’s Saddle Up arena would be available for the overflow days. Hot damn, I thought, now we are cooking with gas. For me, this is going to be five days of centered riding training.

Next went for a trail ride on Raudi. Got to Ridgerunner and there, in the middle of the road, was a cement mixer truck. It was going, the bin was spinning, and it was making a loud noise. I got off Raudi – the closer we got, the more snorty she got. I knew that there was no getting past the thing where it was. The driver ignored me. Raudi got away from me twice. The driver, when asked said that the machine was problematic, and that he could not turn it off. Right then I pitched a fit. The driver, without saying anything, then backed the vehicle. This then enabled me to walk Raudi up a side hill, and over to the adjacent woods trail. Okay, getting past this piece of machinery was more fraught with complications than it ought to have been. But Raudi and I did it.

Raudi and I had a really nice trail ride – she trotted and cantered nicely when asked.

Had a jumping lesson later in the evening. Got to Beth’s right on time, even though we got held up in the road construction. And our subsequent lesson was the very best lesson thus far last year or this year. This was not because we went to new heights on the jump circuit, but rather because Raudi was focused and very willing to do what asked. In fact I have to say that she really enjoyed herself.

The entire time, Beth was attentive and focused on us. We started out by joining the second half of the beginner lesson, worked on bending exercises, going over four cavalettis which were set in a large circle. I learned that Raudi doesn’t bend to the right as well as to the left—but better how to deal with this.

We were then joined by the advanced riders, which are those who routinely take their horses. We next trotted around the perimeter of the arena, and jumped one vertical cavalletti. Raudi was fine with this. We then went over a half cross-jump – our grande finale was our jumping over the entire obstacle. Then we were dismissed. The other riders continued with the lesson. I wanted to keep going but I knew that Beth had exercised good judgement in having Raudi and me conclude the lesson when we did. It is so important to end the lessons on a good note, because this way the horse is being set up for success. Raudi is being so willing because she equates what she’s doing in the arena with having a good time.

The above are small, in fact miniscule triumphs, easily forgotten unless I write them down. But these miniscule accomplishments are, when considered, where true happiness resides. They are accomplishments that are indicative of being in the present, this as opposed to the larger, unobtainable future accomplishments.

And for me, most days lately have been like today. My now making note of the importance of small triumphs is in itself a large triumph.

153. 6/10/15: Big Triumph

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