Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A brief excerpt on the simple truths of life.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, but to no avail. Now I'm not talking about the kind of thinking that gears towards a math test, or Econ paper, I'm talking about the kind that makes you really consider life in its entirety. There are several simple truths I believe in.

I believe that hard work is rewarded.
I believe that those who work hard will get what they desire and deserve.
I believe gut instincts are worth listening to.
I believe that there is more than one mean to every end.
I believe that money does make the world go around.
I believe that patience and honesty are two of the most important qualities one can possess.
I believe that perfect timing is everything, and perfect practice is crucial.

But most of all I believe that there are exceptions to every rule, including each and every rule that I so desperately believe in.

In the horse world things can go either way. While there are plenty of riders out there who are handed everything on a silver platter so to speak, there are just as many who work endless hours to support this desperate habit we all have in common. But where is the balance? In most situations its the depth of your pocketbook that will get you to where you want to go, not your talent or work ethic. Lacy once quoted George Morris in a phrase that pretty much sums up my frustrations. She told me one day, "George once told me you only need three things to be a successful rider. You need talent, you need work ethic, and you need money. You can have a lot of one and a little of the others, or a lot of two, but if you don't have one of those things, then you simply cannot be successful."

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what I want from life, and how I'm going to go out and get it. I've always been the kind of person who never really questioned whether or not I would achieve something. When I want something, I go out and figure out how to get it done. In my early teenage years, that meant beating every team in our way of a national championship youth soccer title. While my team never won Nationals, I spent four 4th of July's in various locations competing in the regional championships. I have several state cup victories to my name, and several high school soccer accolades from my years at Lawrenceville. If you ask anyone in my family, they would say I'm a go-getter. I like to get things done, especially when its something I'm passionate about.

So how do I translate this to my riding? Simply wanting something doesn't mean that a hundred thousand dollar horse will fall into my lap, and somehow I can all of a sudden afford to show on the AA circuit. So then how do I get there? My best guess is that there must be a "perfect storm" of factors that come together. The timing has to be right, I have to have all the stars align, and most of all I need to keep my nose to the grindstone and do the best I can to be the best I can be.

Lately I have been getting extremely lucky. The pony is sold, Jim Bob sent me a prospect of his, an old trainer may send me a project for the spring season to get going/sell, among other potential opportunities. And it makes me wonder why me. Why am I deserving of these things, these opportunities I'm being given. I mean yeah, I know I have worked hard, but have I worked any harder than all those other kids out there? It seems that the more success I have, the more momentum that builds up, and propels the next thing to happen. All the while though I feel like there are people and things around me trying to bring me down. Tearing at my every move, lashing out with words to my face and behind my back, in an effort to invalidate my successes, my work ethic, what I deserve.

Head down, soldier on.

The best example of this in my life would be Evan, but I don't even know how he manages it. He's made it through one of the toughest academic institutions in the country, and on top of that it was the USNA, where people are constantly torn apart for the small things. For him though, I feel like the greatest lesson might come with the knowledge that the things we have always been good at doesn't require that those be the things we must be good at in the future. His work ethic and determination made him the best, and all-time high scoring lacrosse players Lawrenceville has ever seen, yet at Navy his hard work on the lacrosse field wasn't rewarded. Injuries, tough coaching, and many other factors got in his way. Despite the fact that lacrosse was his forte in high school though, that didn't stop him from being one of the top ranked officers based on grades, leadership, and athletics throughout his four years at the Naval Academy.

Many people wonder where I get my intensity from. Hell, I wonder where it comes from sometimes. I think that its easy to see though, in the context of who my greatest influence has been. Its easy to motivate yourself when your big brother has achieved so much success as a reward of his motivation.

On the topic of motivation though, I have recently been learning some important lessons about money. I'm realizing that under no circumstance is it a good idea to try and make a quick dollar. In some situations morality and ethics simply are not rewarded. I'm tired of politics, and I'm tired of the people who try to screw you every which way. I know, I know, such is life, but why do I just have to put my head down and pretend like these things don't exist, or aren't fixable. Its not that difficult to be honest, its not that difficult to do right by other people. The little things are not the most important, yet these details are everything? Are they really going to make or break you? That is no way to live life.

I guess where this whole topic has been leading to is decisions and thoughts on life, in terms of my own. We all know that my passion lies with these crazy, unpredictable beasties, that despite everything, give us their minds, souls, bodies, and hearts to do with what we may. These young ones that I have been working with recently, remind me of my other true passion, which can only be classified by the experiences I have already had, not those I may have in the future. I have been lucky enough to have been afforded many opportunities to travel abroad and work with some truly incredible people.

The most recent experience may, in fact, be my most empowering and life-changing, but not for the typical reasons. And that experience is last January's Social Entrepreneur class in Honduras. Working with children who literally have been given NOTHING is not only eye opening to the depths of poverty, but something that was not all that shocking to me. To me the most exciting discovery was that of a child's will to survive. Most people came home with thoughts about, "oh those poor starving Hondurans", or "how could a parent not feed their child", or "how could a parent abandon their child." Those I have found to fall into the category of simple truths. Those things HAPPEN. The world is not a perfect place. All these things aside, I was dumbfounded by the intelligence and guile of these children who refuse to simply give up the fight to live. At six years old, the desire to quit drugs doesn't exist. At that point, the drugs are the survival mechanism. But at ProNiño, the organization taught the kids that EDUCATION is the survival mechanism.

Why am I talking about all this you wonder? I know it won't be time for me to make choices on life and my path in life for another few years, but how do I even begin to consider the path when the two things I'm most passionate about conflict so deeply? One the one hand, I have lived and worked with the people in the world who truly have been given less than nothing, but at the same time I feel like I'm cheating them by return home, and using the lessons they taught me on work ethic to achieve my own means, and ultimately feed my greed for the things I think I might be able to achieve if given that one simply thing: The Perfect Opportunity.

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