Friday, February 20, 2015

Breaking The Horse

When I began teaching and coaching, my first three years were at the second smallest school in the state of Wyoming.  It was a social studies position in a grade seven through twelve school.  Seventy-two kids in the high school, and 117 kids total.  It was located in Veteran and practically in the middle of nowhere.  I lived in Yoder, which was a short distance away.  And I loved it.  I look back at it and wonder just how I managed to do it being young and dumb and na├»ve as I was, but I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to learn and grow so much.

Keith was one of my students, an eighth grader when I first began.  Quiet, hard-working, a ranch kid.  He could ride and rope and I still have this picture of him up in the saddle with his cowboy hat on, leaning on the saddle horn, a smile on his face as he looks off in the distance.

His horse had a foal and he had to train it, which also meant Breaking it. 

Breaking The Horse sounds rather harsh, doesn’t it?  I mean, when you break a dish, a window, or a mirror, it shatters and pieces fly everywhere, not to mention seven years bad luck for shattering a mirror, allegedly.  It’s work to clean up the mess and too difficult to repair, so we end up throwing it away never to use it again.

In essence, that’s what takes place to the horse’s spirit . . . sort of. 

Keith was very gentle about it, though.  He would talk to the horse (the original horse whisperer, I think), pet it, lead it, and would lean on it.  Get the foal used to him, to a human, to his scent and to his touch.  I remember the foal fighting him a little when he tried to place a bit and bridle in its mouth, but eventually the foal would allow him to do so.  And in time, just like the foal’s momma, or mare, the foal was as friendly as could be.  It would come when Keith called to it.  As long as he was nearby, the foal would allow me to pet it, and if Keith road the foal’s momma, the foal would tag along, actually allowing Keith the lead it by the bit and bridle.  In Keith’s case, the foal started out skittish, but ended up friendly and fairly docile.

Breaking The Horse.

At times, it seems we Break each other.

I’ve been broken a time or two in my life.  Probably more than a time or two.  I’ve been in various jobs and positions where because of fear, I was afraid to act, afraid to make a decision.  I didn’t know what to say, what to do, or how to think or act.  My boss liked it that way.  Various people who thought they were my boss liked it that way.

I didn’t. 

I was unhappy.  I was sad, perhaps depressed.  I hated going to work.  My wife, Kim, said I aged before her eyes.

And I’ve watched adults Break kids.

Think about it . . .

I’m an adult and I suffered.  I had various abilities and ways I could cope, but I still suffered.

Imagine a child at any age when an adult Breaks him or her.  Their spirit.  Their hope.  Their inquisitiveness.  Their creativity.  Their sense of identity and their sense of purpose.  All Broken.

Sometimes the adult will “justify” it, saying to anyone who will listen that it is for their own good.  Their own good.

Exactly who’s good?  The child who walks through life Broken, without hope and fearful of what is in store for the future?  The child who is so afraid he or she cannot decide, afraid to live for fear of what might happen next? 

Or . . .

Is it for the good of the adult because he or she likes order, likes the control, likes to be in charge?  Maybe likes to win?  Perhaps, in a darker view, likes the victim to be “in that place” whatever place that is.

I’m thinking that guidance and training and discovery is better than Breaking.  Done with love, with care and compassion, a child will flourish and grow and become.  Like Keith and his foal, some gentle talking . . . whispering, some petting, some leading and gentle leaning showed the foal what Keith’s intentions were.  So too, an adult can, with love and kindness, with compassion and care, show a child what the adult’s intentions are.  And in the long run, we don’t Break the child’s spirit, the child’s passion, the child’s purpose, the child’s identity.  We guide and love, not Break.  Because once the child is Broken, the pieces are too shattered and scattered to pick up and repair. And a child should never, ever, be thrown away.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
The second book of The Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives, was sent off to the publisher.  It should be out the end of February, 2015 or the beginning of March, 2015.


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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe