In this not-so-new age of digital photography, it can be quite easy to lose track of the photos we take. I used to think I had lots of photos when I’d come back from a trip with 12 roles of film. Now if I’m in a new and exciting place I might take between 100 and 200 pictures in a day. Ophelia will do about the same. After our last trip we ended up with exactly 5000 new photos, many of them capturing really special moments. Well, this morning, I was going through some back-up discs and I found this lovely photo which I hadn’t seen before, taken by Ophelia, who also happens to have an equine blog and another on the writing process (she’s written a great gothic fiction novel called Indigo which you can download from her site).
The picture is of two horses that we know very well, Shan (in the foreground) and her daughter Maggie. We have the privilege of minding them when our friends Helen and Geoff go on holidays. They are both big, powerful horses. Shan is three-quarters Thoroughbred with one-quarter Warmblood and Maggie the younger is especially magnificent being three-quarter Warmblood, built for the demanding manoeuvres of dressage riding.
I love this picture because it speaks so clearly the ways of being that, in my opinion, are at the core of life, and all healthy relationships, both at the personal and the social level. It speaks about supporting and caring for one another and the simple, meaningful ways in which we can show love to one another. I’m not suggesting we all go around grooming each other (though wouldn’t that add something interesting to the next UN Security Council meeting!). Instead, I am suggesting that we might all be a bit better off if we spend a bit less time worrying about our selves and a bit more time focussed on actively supporting each other – putting the art of loving into action.
It might sound counter-intuitive, especially in this world which is often very focussed on ‘me’. But, it works in some profoundly simple ways. If for example, you do have things on your mind, shifting your focus to assisting someone else immediately takes your mind in a manner that will immediately create positive feeling and energy. And I find that this can also assist in creating the mental refreshment needed to find a better way through my own challenges. When you help someone else, you are operating from the empowering presupposition that are able to help even if it just means being present and being supportive.
Helping one another, isn’t about taking responsibility for another person’s challenges, or fixing their problems for them. I used to think that I had to be able to fix other people’s problems. Needless to say, I created a lot of grief for myself with this mindset. The realisation of my error came over a long time, but it was really when my mother became very sick with Ovarian cancer that I was confronted with the fact that there was very little I could actually do. I couldn’t fix the cancer for her or take the pain away. I couldn’t go through the operation or the recovery for her. What I could do, all I could do, was be there, as her son and her friend. With great fortune, she came through.
Though it was tremendously hard sometimes, at the end of every day I went to sleep knowing that I’d done the best I could on the day. We can ask no more of ourselves. In the midst of this, however, I knew I was being given a profoundly powerful gift. Many actually. It put everything in life into very clear perspective, all my worries, and dreams, you name it. And I could finally see with the utmost clarity that all that really matters is that we take care of one another, that’s all. It’s very simple indeed.