Sunday, January 25, 2015

Passages by Alison Hart

None of us are unaffected by passages.  On Equestrian Ink, we have all written about many different kinds of passages that affect us profoundly as well as in smaller, quieter ways.  Because we all have animals who we outlive, we often write about death.  When a horse--or one of us-- gets an injury, we write about changing our riding goals. When a book we've worked hard on finally gets published, we change from a writer to a published author.  When we switch jobs, get a new horse, start family or a new book, we are bombarded by new experiences.

Recently, I decided to stop teaching. I have been an educator for FORTY THREE YEARS.  (Purposefully put in caps because it translates into more years than the age of many of our blog readers.) Some passages--like this--we choose. Others are thrust upon us.  Amazingly, I kept my passion for teaching by switching up grade levels, trying out new methods/technology, going to workshops, mentoring others and dropping from full-time to part-time to keep from burning out. But last semester the frustrations outweighed the joy, and it was time to stop.

An exaggeration 
Yesterday, I began cleaning out my stacks and stacks of textbooks and materials, accumulated over FOUR decades. In many ways it was heart breaking. How can I suddenly stop a career that I was passionate about?  I also wondered what triggered this end of a job that was so important and shaped me for so many years.

As I grow older and have time to be more self-and other-aware (ie not so exhausted by kids and full-time work), I see examples of  people dealing with passages everywhere. I was working at the Antique Shop yesterday when one of my guy friends dropped in. "I am selling all my Civil War Re-enactment stuff," he said. I asked him why he suddenly stopped being passionate about re-enacting, which he has done for twenty-five years, and like the 'man' he is, he simply said, "I've moved on."

Not an exaggeration
My sister, a hoarder, has been consumed by her apartment full of 'things' for ten years.  Her emotional attachment to stuff and inability to make decisions created an unhealthy environment. Now poor health has forced her to leave her precious things, which will be auctioned off or thrown away. To me, this change will help her grow emotionally. To her, it is necessary, yet devastating.  How sad that ten years of her energy were spent caring about something that in the end did not matter, and that this passage in her life --unlike my choice to stop teaching--was forced upon her, not chosen?

These questions about life-changes and finding new passages will continue to stay on my mind.  I still love my horses, but do not ride.  There continues to be sorrow on that passage. Will spring motivate me to get on Relish? Right now, I continue to find fun in antiques--but how long will that last? Will one day the sight of an original Breyer horse in the box leave me cold?
What happens when my great health is no longer a given? My husband retires? My son and his soon-to-be wife have a child?

I can onlyhope I can face all these new changes with determination and joy.

What passages are you going through that have changed your life? Profound or small, they all matter.


Linda Benson said...

Great post, Alison. For me, having severe back problems forced me into a less physical and more sedentary lifestyle than I was used to, and which I was not mentally prepared for. But after having a pity party (for a few year LOL) about not being able to ride for more than 15 minutes (oh, how I'd like to long trot down a trail ten miles) I decided there were still a lot of things that I could do. So I'm finding pleasure in those things. And amazingly, they are bringing me great joy also. Yep, Changes.

Alison said...

Wow, Linda, I did not know about the back problems. I'd love to hear more about the things that are giving you pleasure (other than all those books you are writing!)

Kathleen Herman said...

Laura, do you have any vintage eventing books or magazines that has old eventing photos? Black and white would be good but colored is okay too. Or do you know where I may find such vintage books? Thanks.