Horseback Lessons

During my late pre-teen years, my friends and I would often follow a large creek into the wild and rural lands adjacent to our subdivision. On one of these excursions, we came across a speckled, gray mare grazing at the edge of a pasture. In response to a dare from my friends and prompted by my love for horses, I climbed the fence and approached the placid mare; to my delight, she let me rub her neck and back while she continued to munch on the grass. Encouraged by this success, I took advantage of a tree stump and climbed onto her back. Sitting atop the mare, my friends gawking in awe from beyond the fence, I experienced one of those glorious moments of childhood.

The glory was short-lived as the mare suddenly took off across the pasture. Lying on her back and hanging on around her neck, my cool confidence gave way to terror. Nearing the edge of a woodland, the horse suddenly stopped and I flew off into a patch of thickets, scratching up my arms and face. Though my friends were still impressed, I realized the stupidity of my actions and never related the event to anyone else.

In a way, this childhood experience mirrors man's relationship with the natural world. Confident of our own abilities, we are arrogant enough to believe that we can "tame" her forces. Initially successful, we bask in our achievements which, eventually, succumb to her power. Finally, humbled by the experience, we stop fighting nature and learn to live in concert with her ways.