Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Tao of 2017

I've written about poop before. I will not write about poop again. Not here. Not now. Though there has been plenty of it, and it all factors in.

No, this post picks up on another familiar thread, related to poop, biological imperatives, and Taoism; and that is, taking care of sick and injured animals.

If this year has taught me anything, it has taught me to pay close attention. You know what I'm getting at--that tired contemporary saw (I roll my eyes with you) mindfulness.

You're soaking in it.

Or at least I am.

But chances are good that you are, too. I mean, on a political level at least, you either had the rug pulled out from under you, or you're beginning to wonder if you made a huge mistake. Is PODUNK a mad genius or just mad? You're paying attention, trying to figure out what happened, or what is happening, or both.

But let's put politics aside for just a sec.

I generally like to listen to music in the car while I'm driving. But lately, I drive without music, without the pleasant diversion, because I may need to remember something important.

Yesterday, at six AM, I walked my injured mare from the barn through a patch of mud in the dark to the trailer that she, with her injured leg, limping, had to step up onto. She had to agree to do this, and she did. Because she trusts me.

I take that trust very seriously, white-knuckling every mile of that 60-mile journey; stopping, turning, merging, etc., as gingerly as possible. If Belle fell down in the trailer, that could be the end of her.

She didn't.

Turns out, part her cannon bone at the joint was stoved in, a small but very serious injury. Her chances of recovery depend on many factors, including but not limited to a strict regimen of various medications, supplements, stall rest, ice, and exercise. It will take months and months to heal. The outcome is not guaranteed. I can only do my level best.

The cat is back on prednisone. This is disappointing.

Tanner, the Palomino, is recovering from his shoulder wound. I really don't know how he did it, but we've removed all the hooks in the barn. (I have nowhere to put a bridle or a halter or a dustpan.)

It's muddy out, and Tanner rolled in it, so his sides (and bad shoulder) are caked in mud. His stitches still have to come out.  I wish he looked cleaner--for the vet, for me, and for his own self-esteem (though to look at him, you would think he didn't give a shit).

Finally, the third horse's butt is seriously mucky; a situation that could lead to infection of some kind (with my luck, his ass will burst into flames on Sunday).  I will need a bucket of warm water, a big sponge, and a patient horse to address the problem.

And there are dogs, too, aging dogs who haven't had their supplements in two days because, frankly, I'm overwhelmed.

I don't remember my life being like this before.

I have dashed all prospects of travel this summer. There is no one to whom I could hand all of this off to.

It is very squarely my problem, and the only way any of it will come out right is if I continue to pay very close attention.

Yes, I know that having horses is a privilege and, arguably, a class issue--even in the Midwest, where horses are relatively commonplace. But we all spend money and time doing things for no better reason than that they make us feel good, right?

Most of us have something that we indulge in: Beer, wine, good food, traveling, shopping, gaming...It all takes time and money.  But we do it, because it enriches our lives.

You can go overboard.  You can spend too much time and money on these things.  They can become a source of isolation, addiction, even despair. Almost anything that gives us pleasure can also do the opposite.

That's where I find myself. I'm at the point of admitting, I may have too many animals. I'm a little overwhelmed.  The injuries, the illness, the mud.  It's a bit much. (But I'm keeping all of them.)

The political situation just makes everything worse. I feel like we took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in some Godforsaken place, a page in history that we remember (if we remember) as a very bad time, the stuff of nightmares.

I'm not particularly happy, and I don't expect to be.
This morning at school, my son said he loved me and I pretended I was going to yell it back to him real loud, so all the middle-schoolers within a square mile would prick up their ears and think, What a freakin' dork!

That made me happy. A little boost of oxytocin.

Discovering that my husband had unloaded all six bags of stall shavings and stacked them neatly in the barn, along with a 50-pound bag of lyme...made me briefly happy.

Seeing my mare eat the gooey cookie I fashioned for her out of cereal, honey, tortilla chip crumbs and 12 crushed-up horse pills made me happy until she decided they were gross.

I do not enjoy the same sense of well being or joy that I know I did have (or should have had) not terribly long ago...

I am now in a place in my life where I look back and think, Oh, yeah! Those were happy years.

Some years are very happy. This is not one of them. This is not a happy year.

However, it could be said (I will go ahead and say it), that from a certain perspective, life is simpler now.

In politics, it's good versus evil, just like the bad old days leading up to WWII.

And here at home, things pretty much boil down to matters of life and death.

For me, (and perhaps for you, too?) this is the year to be alert, mentally tough, and conscientious.

Perhaps more than any other year in my life, this is a time to be paying very close attention.

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