“Did you think this would be forever …?”
Dear young Jo,
Enjoy that winning moment as long as you can because everything gets worse from there. I am sorry that I don’t have anything more encouraging to write, but as I look down the tunnel of years, I wish you/I had never given up horses. I wish you/I had done at least some of the things you/I really wanted to do; I wish you/I had not given in to what was “expected” and lost out on an uncommon, wonderful life. I know it was what you feared the most, and I am sorry to say that it is what happened. I am telling you this now because maybe you will be able to listen, and I can somehow come back and fix things for us/me.
First, never give up the horses. Right now, it seems impossible to think that horses wouldn’t be part of your life, but it ends, swiftly. I know you are thinking of being a “trainer,” but that won’t make you happy in the long run. I also know that on the edge of your thought process is the idea of riding dressage. Do it. At the very least, it is more intellectually stimulating than riding walk-trot-canter-reverse in English Pleasure classes at the shows. Things will change drastically at the shows anyway, and fortunately, it looks like there will be many new opportunities to do that part-time for enjoyment. But dressage is an Olympic sport, and you might as well aim high. I know you have the talent to get to the top, but you are going to have to focus on it and not veer off the path. I know you have thought this, and there is no one to support and encourage you now, but you need to find a way to make this happen.
Second, don’t expect anyone to give you the things you really need, tangible or intangible. People will come and go, some might even stay, but no one will share and support all the dreams you have. You are smart and artistic, although you are far from finding that out; being an artistic type with all the energy and creativity smouldering deep inside you is difficult to understand for most people.
You will have to focus and keep following your dreams, no matter how many people try to drag you down with their bad moods and negativity. Others will try to discourage you because they are mostly jealous and lack the ambition and motivation to do what you can. Don’t let them hold you back. You will have to be strong and do everything yourself. When you are young, there seems to be no clear path, but I am giving it to you now.
Third, never stop writing and thinking at that higher level. NEVER. No matter how unpopular it is with other people, and it will be unpopular, don’t stop. You will realize that others can’t handle it that you understand most things in about five seconds and it takes them a really long time, if they ever “get it.” Ignore them. Don’t be weak.
Fourth, music and photography will play a larger role later. You don’t have to pursue them fervently, but know they are there as creative outlets. And those photos you’ve thought of now that might seem like they are “trite,” and that “everybody sees that and can do that,” well, that’s not true. They aren’t, and they don’t. Most people really don’t see anything. S.J.L. was right, most people are “superficial,” (his favorite word).
Which leads to the next point, adults are not sensible and logical and they hardly ever do the right thing, especially those who are in charge. As a young adult, you are thinking that “mature” adults are wise and benevolent. They aren’t. Most of them are petty, self-centered, and greedy. Try to avoid them if you can.
Travel often (road trips), and have adventures. Get a motorcycle and learn to ride it! But wait until later when the cool bikes are invented. You will have lots of things to experience and write about!
One more thing: our parents live a long time, but it still hurts when they’re gone. No one really finds this out until it happens to him or her, including you. Mother was right, you will miss her when she’s gone, as if that isn’t obvious. At least I still have Dad.
Well, I know that is a lot, especially the emotional roller-coaster this has certainly been, but unlike you/me now, you have a long happy stretch of years in front of you, especially if you take my advice. I suppose I’ve become cynical and disappointed in my mid-life realization, but I am hoping this will help.
Meanwhile, I will have to deal with my lack of strength and the fact that I have realized too late what I should and shouldn’t have done. But that’s what they say, right? Youth is wasted on the young, and a lifetime of learning is worth nothing to anyone else. Because when you get to this stage and some semblance of enlightenment, you are too old to take advantage of what you’ve learned. You can try to change things and deceive yourself into believing that it can be what you want it to be no matter how late it is, but it’s never going to be the same. I always thought I could have another chance – at anything – but that’s not true anymore. The moment I realized it was when I recently put on that same saddle suit you were wearing in the photo with Princess Rona. I wondered who was wearing my saddle suit. An old burned out hag looked back at me from the mirror, and I knew my hopes had slipped away.
Don’t let it happen. Let yourself be creative and smart. Find a way to get another horse and riding style. But above all, don’t let other people wear down your dreams. It will sometimes be like trying to roll a boulder uphill in the mud, unless you are strong. It will be difficult, but worth it.
Good luck, and I hope you can change your path, and your life, to one of fulfillment and happiness.
Your older and wiser self
Smiling bravely as I wonder what this photo of the “present” me might have been?