I’m sat about 38,000 feet above the Atlantic as I write this, chasing timezones back to Chicago, IL for the National Developing Horse Championships and, thus, ending my 2-month stint in Europe. The moment is definitely bittersweet because, although I’m terribly excited to be heading back home to greet my goofy dog and awesome friends, I’m also leaving behind an unforgettable experience and newfound friends. My final week in Verden was predictably crazy… On Monday, the Elite Auction dressage prospects arrived, followed by the jumpers on Wednesday. Somehow, there was still a sense of structured chaos in all seven stables, thanks to the usual rigorous schedules and meticulous organization on the Verband’s behalf.
Each day, the horses were either photographed for their official catalogue’s conformation picture (I can still picture full-grown, serious German men dancing around with purple umbrellas and squeaky toys to try and get the horses’ attention!), free-jumped, or ridden for subsequent videos. In short, it was a week of nonstop braiding and thorough grooming of some exceptional quality horses.
A few stuck out more than others, and I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on one in particular, a 5-year-old Vivaldi – Hohenstein called Let’s Dance who blew me away on many levels. On Wednesday, I even got a pleasant surprise visit from Richard Malmgren who happened to also be in Germany, and we had a great, lengthy chat over a delicious dinner! Even if these last few days have been incredibly exciting and busy, I’m definitely relishing the downtime I’m spending in all of these airports and flights (19hrs total travel time, yikes!) It’s in fact given me the opportunity to think, which is usually not a good sign! 😉 It’s made me reflect on my little voyage and what it all boiled down to for me. Not to get all philosophical, but it’s brought me to question why we do what we do and what drives us. Happiness is, in my opinion, the center of it all, and can basically even be summed as the proverbial “meaning of life”. This may seem painfully obvious, but finding, creating or living happiness is what we should all seek, I think. However, the definition of happiness is different with each individual, as it should be, because we all have varied perceptions of what makes us happy, based on our tastes, experiences and personalities. I’ve recently come to appreciate and further understand the nuances between two closely tied notions, that of success and comfort. Both could easily be linked with happiness. But, I believe one precedes the other, in most cases. Comfort is fantastic, yet can sometimes lead to a rut, if exploited. For instance: comfort is a slouch versus a healthy posture; it’s sleeping in until noon instead of getting work done; it’s living in your parents’ basement until you’re 30 because outside responsibilities can seem overbearing; it’s feeling you don’t need to try for your spouse anymore because you’re “so comfortable”.
Sometime, we need to push ourselves well out of our comfort zone or make sacrifices in order to get the ball rolling and achieve our goals, regardless of how that success is translated (health, personal, spiritual, financial, professional, relationships, etc.) Pushing yourself outside of that comfort zone can be compared to working out (the age-old “no pain, no gain”), traveling to an intimidating location to eventually make memories that will last a lifetime, taking up a job that might not have all the perks you’d wish it to have in order to get some long-term benefits, risking a gamble on a project horse, and so on.
My bottom line is: embrace and relish comfort, but don’t abuse of it. Be mindful but challenge yourself and don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. The worst that can come of it is a learning experience. 😋