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On Giving Up

We all know situations in which we are drawn into a struggle over something fairly minor. The issue in question begins to recede behind the struggle over power, the feeling of control over the situation. It becomes a matter of survival when survival is not remotely at issue.

Horses have a lot to teach us in this regard, too. Many times a day they give up, retreat, show respect, walk away. Horses very rarely engage in proper fights. They do engage in a lot of “theatre”, they speak loudly, if needed, and react promptly. Mostly, very subtle signs are swiftly processed and responded to appropriately to avoid any escalation. Balance and peace in the herd is vital to its survival.

The way this balance and peace are maintained is part of the precious gift horses have to offer to us. We can learn to notice the energy inside us, and the energy coming at us from other people, animals, and the environment, like horses do. Swiftly, accurately, without prejudice. And to engage with that energy in the spirit of maintaining balance, peace, and a good life.

I recently found myself inside such a struggle. Right in the middle of writing one of those e-mails I “woke up” and noticed how I felt – the tension and misery in my body. Then I remembered the horses' way of measuring if an altercation is worth it. Is the issue at hand vital? Is the energy needed to fight it worth the outcome? Immediately I began to laugh, because the matter in hand was definitely not worth spending precious time writing a tricky e-mail. In fact, the issue disappeared and became “just one of those things”, not worth the bother. It became a choice – fight or walk away. Not walk away out of the herd, just far enough to say “It's ok, I am not fighting over this.”

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