Saturday, April 16, 2011

Story of the Horse In the Barn

This is the horse in the barn story! Among people I have told the story, it has become a meaningful shorthand that instantly communicates. I first thought of it as a way to comfort myself about having to do so much for another perfectly capable human. I thought, What if I had invested in a very valuable horse and planned a care and maintenance schedule for it, in order to protect my investment. Good care keeps an animal happy and content, healthy and beautiful. The care schedule would be another responsibility in a life filled with responsibilities. But the return on my investment would be worth the time and effort of doing everything for the valuable horse. A horse needs food, vitamin supplements, good water, clean surroundings. He can’t arrange any of these things for himself. He can’t get his water pail washed or measure out the oats for himself. He doesn’t have any hands, he can’t read a clock or a calendar. When he makes noise I can’t understand what he’s saying, because I don’t speak Horse. So I just talk in a nice tone, and make sure to do the best I can to do what the horse needs. I can’t be angry at the horse for my inability to understand his language, or his inability to get his own breakfast and things. The comparisons can be carried out as far as needed. The point for me is, everything that I want to have comes with a high price in money, energy, frustration, patience and wear on my nerves. So I just keep my wants down to where I can try to manage the costs. I thought of this story when my friend was blowing her top because her husband would only take his meds and supplements if she portioned them out for him every morning. If she was rushing around and didn’t do it, he wouldn’t go and take them. So I said, How about pretending that he is a horse in a barn with no hands, and he can’t get the meds himself? She said, Well yeah, if he actually cannot get them for himself, then I don’t mind.

1 comment:

Marytoo said...

Good point! Perspective changes everything.