Dreams are funny things. You can dedicate everything to one, make your entire life revolve around it, and then in the blink of an eye it can disappear and everything you’ve done was for nothing. It leaves you with nothing but this heart-stopping, soul-crushing disappointment that is seemingly impossible to recover from. How do you recover from something like that? You pick yourself up and move on with life, because you have no choice. One foot in front of the other, you learn how to survive, even if it is in a different way than you are used to. It is true that nothing will ever be exactly the same again, you may never find that same passion again, but maybe you will come close. Other things take the place of that love you once had, and you begin to love something again. You get new dreams. Slowly, you begin to live again.
Then something happens. You get another chance at your dream. You can try again. The thing is, this has happened before. You have tried again, and again, and again, all to the same disappointing end. You have been ‘trying again’ your whole life. Now you have just begun to build your life again, this time with a safer dream. You are afraid of letting go of this new dream in case this old one dies…again.
Yet this old dream…this old passion…you know in your heart that it is not really dead. It is like a lover who broke your heart long ago, yet you never stopped loving; not really. It has been a part of you for too long. It has shaped you, built you, made you who you are. It is as much a part of you as your heart is. You do not know how to exist without it. This life you have re-built, this half-life, are on the ashes of this old dream, so unstable.
So the question is, what do you do? How do you try again, after so much heartbreak? How do you trust that things will be okay, after you have seen how badly it can go? How do you go back to believing in a dream that you have long since given up on?
♦ ♦ ♦
I guess I should let you all know what I am rambling on about so melodramatically. As anyone who has ever known me, met me, or even heard about me in passing from a friend knows, I have loved horses my entire life. I was born into a horse family, so it is in my blood. Sometimes I feel like that is more than a figurative saying, that there really is some sort of ‘horse gene’ or at least a strong genetic instinct that pulls me towards horses like a magnet. Suffice to say, I developed a passion for riding, and some very big dreams, early on in my life. Since then, nearly everything I have done has been dedicated to moving myself closer to those dreams.
Unfortunately, life (and horses) had other plans. The thing about choosing horses as your passion is that it is a terrible idea. I mean absolutely terrible. I mean, I would probably recommend a passion as a target girl for a knife thrower over a passion for horses, it would be less painful. (Probably physically safer, too.) Not only do horses take all of your time and money, and then some, but they break easily. Or they decide to be stubborn and difficult, which makes the process all the more frustrating. Then they usually break anyway, probably right after you’ve finally made a little bit of progress. This has all happened to me, multiple times over. I know I’m not alone in my struggles, not by a longshot, and everyone has their reasons for giving up on horses. Over the years I have seen friends and co-workers, all just as dedicated (or more so) to horses as I was, drop out of the sport like flies. It is never because they can’t find another horse; it is always due to heartbreak. Even so, every time it happens you still feel alone. I am no exception. Here is my most recent reason for (almost) giving up:
After struggling to keep horses in my life for years, and finally making some strides towards building a career with them (i.e. working with them almost every waking hour for a year and a half of my life) I decided to buy a young project horse to train and sell. I spent all of my money on a young horse – the first one I had bought myself, that was truly mine. Guess what happened? You’re right! She went lame. Permanently. I tried for a year and a half to treat her, rehabbed her a number of times (a very frustrating process that takes months) only to have her still be broken at the end of it all. I was finally lucky enough to find her a home for her as a breeding mare, and though I still lost all of my money on her, I know it could have ended a lot worse if I hadn’t been able to find her a home and was stuck with paying her bills for the next ten-to-twenty years. Even so, although I thought I had prepared for the worst (something like this) nothing could have cushioned the blow.
Since then, I have ridden some horses when I could, but always other people’s horses, situations I didn’t have to invest myself completely in…though they didn’t usually end well either and I ended up getting screwed over, which is still pretty heartbreaking. I have gotten very frustrated, and little by little I have found myself giving up the fight to keep horses in my life, since it constantly proves pointless, and not worth the work without any reward. Instead, I have invested my time and energy into martial arts. Clung to it, really, as my only saving grace while the rest of my world fell apart (horses, job, school, living situation, friends leaving, etc.). So now I’m pretty invested in it, I spend the majority of my time working on it, and have plans and goals…and I might even go so far as to call them dreams.
Now, I am in a bit of a conundrum. I was approached about a horse that seems perfect to help me reach some of my goals. A little while ago, I would have snatched her up in a heartbeat. Now, I realize that I am scared. Terrified, really, about what it would mean. I know that if I buy a horse it will take most of my time and energy, and my martial arts will suffer. Once I get a job (in this mystical future where I am actually a functional person) it will be even worse, and I am worried that everything I have put into martial arts in the last two years will go to waste. I am worried that I will lose that new dream for an old one that may be impossible.
So, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if this is even an example of following your head versus your heart, because I do believe it is all my heart, pulling me in two different directions. I am in love with two different things, and though hearts seem to have an unlimited capacity for love, lives do not. I think I must make a choice, as to what I love more, and it is not an easy one. This is not an easy place to be at all, stuck here, in the space between dreams.