Riding & Living for the Recovery – Not the Reaction

Jul 1, 2020 | Past & Present

The traffic was light last Monday driving into Palo Alto. Much lighter than the weight Bren and I quietly carried heading to Stanford for another cancer check up and exam. Living with cancer somewhat prepares a person for the possibility of bad news and “The Reaction” which can follow but the hopes of good news is where the “Recovery” should be found. Or should it?

To parallel this with our horses, I reference our young mare, Muddy, who we have been riding quite a bit since purchasing her from a friend. Although he did a great job of starting her, she’s still very young and has a lot of living and learning ahead of her. I’m fully prepared and okay with the fact that she’s going to jump sideways or try to outrun things that might trouble her–it’s a mindset one has to have when working with young or troubled horses, otherwise give the job to someone who can.

It’s the same mindset Bren and I have taken with cancer.

Walking into the big brown building at 800 Blake Wilbur Drive is no different really than creeping through the tall willows that line Eagle Creek. Stepping into the building, I mentally take a deep seat in the saddle. Waiting for the elevator, I check my Pedals (stirrups). This time I was riding alone due to Covid. Friends and family could not come in with me.

The sad tole this idea of separation is taking on a people who want to be together may never really be tallied, but that’s another essay for another Sunday! Up at Eagle, I know full well there’s a bunch of Brennen’s cows with bells on hiding in those willows that could send Muddy and I off at mach speed. My positioning in the saddle will allow me to stay with her when it happens; not shut her down, accepting the reaction but looking for the recovery.

From here on out this essay’s apt to get confusing for folks who live their lives reaction to reaction. Drama! If there’s anything that cancer has taught Bren and myself, it would be just how little control we have over the many things that can effect our lives. As I’ve mentioned before, I always giggle inside when I hear folks use the term “forever”, as if they have ANY control of the future!

Again I parallel the young or troubled horse.

No matter the due diligence, I complete before leaving the coral. The outside world says “Oh, yeah? You didn’t think this and you forgot that!” So my approach is simple: expect the reaction but gauge our improvements upon the recoveries.

The first trip through Eagle Creek last month was accompanied by four or five solid spooks and bolts forward due to the cows and a couple of misguided deer. A couple weeks back, same trail, same cows, same physical reaction in the fact that her head went up and her heart rate could be monitored through the saddle’s seat but no spook or bolt. A quick pet on the neck and we were back on our way. To the casual observer a fantastic recovery!

For myself, I never want to ride a horse that’s been so dulled down stepping on tarps or crossing silly bridges that it doesn’t react to the various things that provoke reactions. I relish the chance to develop in a horse the ability to still notice things but make mature decisions as to when calories should be used or wasted! I want that life available to me for bigger projects. Life presents us with the same opportunities, but in life the natural man connects the recovery with what he or she believes to be only “Good News”. The spiritual man or woman realizes their recovery always lies in Christ Jesus, regardless what the good folks at Blake Wilbur have to report. The recovery for the believer lies in truth the Apostle Paul tells us:

…God is working ALL things to the good…For those who love Him and are called to His purpose

Contra Buddhism and many other philosophies out there, pain, suffering, and, yes, cancer are real–not mentally summed through some weird metaphysical state of mind. Jesus Himself state:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.“

If I never took Muddy into the mountains, I would never have the chance to feel her react. Never have the chance to ride a good spook or bolt. If I never opened my heart to relationships, I would never have the chance to experience heartache. If I only expected the received “Good News” from the doc’s at 800 Blake Wilbur, Bren and I would have never had the chance to love them like we do. They have done nothing but try and save my life since the day we met. And although we don’t know them outside the white coats they wear, we truly do love them. We’d enjoy nothing more than to have them come up for big o’ bbq!

In closing, expect and enjoy every spook and bolt your horses offer you, as well as all this life throws your way. Relish the recovery that Paul says is always available regardless of the results. That’s where life is really being lived.