I’ve been spinning my wheels a lot lately, obsessing over things that seem broken. I needed someone to help ground me, so I signed up for a goal-setting workshop. The workshop included a helpful presentation about core values and goals that helped me find some clarity.
I was in this goal-oriented, “searching for meaning” state of mind when I read an article about horse librarians in the 1930’s. These women were part of the WPA and served communities in rural Kentucky by delivering donated books and magazines to isolated families. The librarians put in 100-120 miles per week on their horses or mules. They would saddle up at dawn, regardless of weather, and make their way up hillsides and across creeks.
As I was reading the article, I thought, “My mom would totally do that.” She’s a retired high school librarian and has always been fervent about getting books into people’s hands. I thought of different people I know who would, if necessary, jump on a horse to immunize children or share their faith or educate women about reproductive health or put on a school musical.
Since I read about the horse librarians, I’ve been asking myself, “What things/ideas/values am I so committed to that I’d jump on a horse to make them happen? What things am I doing just because I feel obligated?”
I know that not everyone has the privilege of having their day job be the place where they find meaning and purpose, but I do think that most of us have a little more freedom than we realize. There are slivers of time that we do have some choice about how we will spend them. Your day job might not be where you find purpose, but using your killer alto voice in the church choir has you hopping out of bed on Sunday mornings. You might be so passionate about caring for animals that you spend your weekends at the local shelter.
The things that you are willing to saddle up for don’t have to be Nobel Peace Prize worthy pursuits. Making people laugh is a huge gift. Creating beauty is important. There are people who make the world better by making sure women choose the right under-eye concealer. Helping someone decorate their home in a way that brings them joy is worthwhile. I knew a man who claimed to be “healing the world one traumatized eyebrow at a time.” He would definitely get on a horse to stop an over-tweezing situation.
I really like taking flowers to people. When I hear that someone is having a graduation party or a shower or a banquet, I tell them, “I’ll drop 10 Mason jars of flowers from our yard at your house at 9am.” I don’t even have to be invited to the party. I love waking up at dawn, clipping flowers and arranging them. Ask me to plan an elaborate class party for kindergarteners, however, and I’m definitely phoning that in. I’m so grateful that other moms find that meaningful.
There are so many things we don’t have control over in our lives. When we do have some choice, why not try for “horse worthy” pursuits?