Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word…

I had to apologise to Flynn last week…

I’m currently reading a book, that to be honest, is like swimming through molasses (or at least how I imagine swimming through molasses would be like.) It’s a book on building better communication with your horse. The author comes from a slightly different spiritual arena than myself and uses language that I would use differently, and so I’m constantly analysing what is said and whether,  i) I understand it and ii) I agree with it.

Anyway, last week I read a chapter that could be best titled “leaving the past behind you”. The author’s main point is that as humans we often take the hurts, disappointments and failures of our past with us into our present. Sadly, true for almost all of us. The author though, then says that we do the same with our horses as well. We take some negative behaviour that our horse has done in the past and hold on to it, allowing it to influence, shape and colour some of the things we do with our horse now.

FlynnCarWash

Wham! I immediately thought of something Flynn had done four years ago. As a result of “the incident” I actively pursued a course of action that would improve my skills so that I could become a better horse person. However, I realised that I still held this “incident”against Flynn. Almost everything I did with him since was tainted with an underlying tone of “don’t you do that thing again”. Even worse, when I asked myself how often Flynn had done that “thing” again, the answer was zero. Nil. Zilch. Not once had he done it. Yet here I was holding it against him. Again and again and again…

So, I apologised to him. I told him he was off the hook. A hook he shouldn’t have been on anyway! But more was to come. A few days after the apology, he and I attended a horsemanship clinic. It was the first time I had taken Flynn to anything like this. How would he respond to all the strange sights, sounds, smells and a group of horses that he had never met before. Conscious of my apology earlier the week, I found myself working hard to let go of any expectations and work with whatever “horse” showed up on the day.

The clinic went well and as I thought about it afterwards, and the things we learnt I realised that there was still more apologising to do. Not to Flynn, but to myself. I became aware, of how I hadn’t forgiven myself for not being the person Flynn needed all those years ago when the incident occurred. Like I had done with Flynn, I kept myself on the hook – doubting if I had really changed or grown in my skills…

Letting go of the past is something we hear again and again. Yet I am amazed at the subtle ways our past can haunt us, causing us to cling to it, often without even realising we are doing it. Making mistakes, experiencing failures is all part and parcel of a life that seeks to expand beyond where we are. Discovering how we can learn from them, without letting them become a noose is also part of that journey…

“Every moment and every event of every person’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”

(Thomas Merton)

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