Is it time to get back on the horse? Often, when we’ve had an unhappy experience, we sometimes totally avoid similar situations. It seems easier to evade it, than trying again. But if you don’t “get back on the horse” you can miss out on wonderful experiences!
Last year at my father’s funeral, one of my nieces gave a eulogy on behalf of all of Dad’s grandchildren. One story stood out to me in particular. It was the story of the time when my oldest niece was riding one of my dad’s horses. When the grandchildren were young, it was a treat for them to “ride” while an adult held the reins and led the horse. On this occasion, the reins got dropped and the horse sensing his freedom bolted for the barn that was some distance away.
Off the horse went, with my niece holding on for dear life, as my dad called after her, “Hold on!” The horse made it to the barn much faster than the terrified adults. When they got close, they were thankful to see my niece emerging from the barn, shaky but whole. (She had dismounted herself and not been thrown off.)
After the happy reunion, my dad delivered this traditional piece of wisdom to my niece. He told her that she had to get back on the horse. You can imagine, that neither my niece nor her parents were too thrilled with that news. But my dad was firm. He believed if she didn’t get back on the horse, she never would.
So she did get back on the horse and enjoyed many more years of riding horses on her grandfather’s farm. Not only that, but this lesson stayed with her for more than 30 years!
As I listened to this story, I couldn’t help but compare it to one I had heard just a few hours before. Earlier in the day, my son had mentioned to me that he had fallen off a horse at the farm once and had never ridden again. It was something he always regretted.
To get back on the horse can mean so many things. Often, when we have a bad experience, we stay away from the thing we fell off of.
It could be a job, a classroom experience (you’d be surprised how often math keeps student from getting a degree), or a relationship. Sometimes it seems easier to just avoid things when we’ve had a bad experience.
When I work with people that have lost their job, it seems the last thing they want to do is look for another job. It seems wrong to have to go out there and make your best impression when you are at your lowest point.
But what I see time and time again, is that taking time off, getting some things done, or just nursing wounds, turns into not a week or two, but months if not years. Maybe forever.
My dad was an amazing example of always getting back on the horse. When he and my mom were in the early years of their marriage he had a series of low-paying jobs. Once when he lost one of those, he decided that he just wouldn’t tell mom. At least not until he had a new job. He got up every morning and got dressed as if going into work. At the end of the week, he had a new job and finally told my mom.
I’m not advising keeping secrets from your spouse. However, I really admire that he didn’t take even a single day off from looking new job and making sure we were all okay.
When he was just 35, he was severely injured in an industrial accident. His recovery was long, arduous, and not without worry. At one point they weren’t even sure if Dad would keep his legs. Eventually he was able to return to work. Talk about getting back on the horse! He not only went back, he went on to work almost 30 more years there, got a college degree, and fulfilled most of his lifetime dreams.
There are things in my life that I don’t want to do right now. I’ve fallen off the horse more times than I care to count. But hearing this story again really inspired me to look at things in a new way. The longer I wait to face something the harder it gets in my mind. And the harder it seems, the longer I put it off and so on.
I hope if you have some challenge you are facing, that putting a story to an old cliché helps you consider just getting back on that horse too.
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.