Living in the Moment

balanceresized_200There’s a thing that horse people like to say: that horses live in the perpetual present. It’s not actually true. Horses have phenomenal memories, and also have the ability to anticipate events that haven’t happened yet (as many a dressage rider has discovered when trying to ride a test, when the horse starts doing the movements on its own without the rider’s intervention).

What it actually means is that humans believe horses, and animals in general, have the ability to step out of their own heads and just be. Humans have a harder time with this. All the words and the thinky thoughts and the analytical bits get in the way. It takes real effort to back down and turn off the internal monologue.

I’ve had this thought often, and talked about it here, too. It came back to me last week, not because of the horses, but because we had gone to see that film everybody has been seeing. Yes, that one.

I hadn’t spent a lot of time getting excited. Experience warned that disappointment was all too likely. So I went, because I couldn’t not, and I went unspoilered, which is not my usual condition. I don’t mind spoilers. But somehow, for this, I wanted the unadulterated experience. Straight from the bottle. Minimal expectations.

That was the horseperson in me, to a degree. Being braced for any number of results good or bad, but going in with an empty mind. Just letting it happen.

Sure enough. That theme music swelled. There was the famous crawl of text. Goosebumps up and down. And then there were two hours and a bit of pure experience.

Not everyone could or would do that. There have been plenty of articles from the analytical side of the Force, people reacting positively or negatively to the film, its actors, its creative choices, and on and on. But the film is meant to be experienced in the moment, with a memory of what came before and an awareness of what’s to come. Like the world according to a horse.

For some reason that really works for me. I’ve been struggling through the past year, which was not a good year, to get out of my head and into the moment I’m supposed to be living in. No dwelling on the past or panicking about the future. Of course I have to take both into consideration, but I haven’t been just letting it be. Which makes me feel all trapped up in my head, with the rest of me lost somewhere below.

Which is not a good state of mind to be in while handling horses, or dogs or cats, either. Horses cut the dull and stupid humans many miles of slack, but eventually the humans had better step up. If they don’t, they can get tromped.

There’s a further aspect to it, too. One that sucks the joy out of things because I’m so busy either analyzing the situation or freaking out over all the things I have to do/can’t do/have tried to do but smacked head-on into a wall. Stopping, breathing, focusing, are all sanity-savers. So is taking time to just stand with a horse and let the big calm presence calm me down.

That’s what I took with me into the movie theater (twice, so far). That’s what I try to take into the barn every day, and into the rest of my days as well. It makes for much less stress, and much more ability to do the things on the endless list–and better yet, to do them without flying into panic mode.

I don’t even need a lightsaber. Though a nice long whip (for reaching out and touching, not for smacking or lashing) can be a good thing to have.

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About Judith Tarr

Judith Tarr is a writer, a freelance editor and writing mentor, and a lifelong horse person. She lives near Tucson, Arizona, where she raises and trains Lipizzan horses. Her new book, Forgotten Suns, is out now from Book View Cafe. Yes, there are horses in it.
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10 Responses to Living in the Moment

  1. sherwood says:

    That’s a great way to approach both the film and difficult times. (Still haven’t seen the film yet, due to ongoing. Hope to remedy that soon.)

  2. Deborah says:

    I had been partially spoiled, but the movie still didn’t disappoint me, even with some events that other viewers found upsetting. I came away feeling just the way I did the first time I saw the first Star Wars in — 1977, wasn’t it?

    But I think I went in the same way you did — although feeling timorously hopeful.

    Definitely want to see again.

  3. Paulette says:

    Absolutely loved the movie and have seen it 3 times now. I’ll probably see it again. This is the movie I have been waiting for since I first saw Episodes IV-VI in the theaters way back when. And yes yes yes to the way that horses ground us and require us to be completely present when we’re with them. And heal us and accept us and approach us with their generous spirit. They are the continuous joy in my life.

  4. alison farrin says:

    Laughing…..you know you are a horse person when the first movie that came to mind was Unbranded, not Star Wars. I was all the way to the “sure enough” paragraph before my brain switched movies!

  5. Sara Stamey says:

    Yes, my animal companions are such a good reminder of all that you say here. What a gift they are! Thanks for sharing.