You may not necessarily be able to relate to this career change, but it may, in fact, act as a catalyst to get you thinking about how important it is that we not put ourselves into a box.
It involved the life on one Alan Greenspan, my 8-year-old Arabian horse who was imported from Argentina and brought in through Florida and found his way to me in California. He’s got his sexy on, despite the fact that he was neutered when he was but a toddler.
Alan has had a really, really good life, heretofore. He spent the last 5 years of his life living in the lap of luxury. With a beautiful stall to sleep at night, an arena to run for a few minutes during the day and long hours spent, first, in our beautiful shaded forest and late afternoons joining the other horses mowing the grounds, this boy would have had something to write about, if only he could write.
Alan was one of my polo ponies. The only Arab of my team, but a tremendous athlete, nonetheless.
Horses don’t keep a journal in their minds as they tend to live very much in-the-moment, an attribute that we humans do not have.
So, when we left Oak Forest, my husband decided not to transport Alan far away but, rather, to keep him here. My husband has a deep, personal friendship going with this particular horse. So, he brought Alan over to the very large racing stable of a dear friend of ours…a woman who has been successfully racing Arabians throughout the state of California for many years. (as you know, Thoroughbreds are race horses and very few, if any, professional trainers race Arabs, but this very talented trainer does).
We decided to bring him over to her stable because these horses have fun. She has approximately 60 horses on a hundred acres, with their own pool (yes, you read that right), a full-on race track (for training) and pastures upon pastures of lush green grasses where horses are buddied-up to run and play all day. There’s also a stable, a rather large one, but most of the horses play outside all summer and life is good for these spoiled-rotten little pampered kids.
I’ve got to tell you, when Alan got there, he just knew he was in horse heaven (I think he even thought he’d died and gone to heaven, it was that good!). The very second he got off the trailer, it was like that horse took a gander around and, for a brief second, we thought we saw a smile on his face (no, horses don’t really smile!).
He was immediately taken to a pasture with about 10 other handsome males and they started frolicking and running around like there was no tomorrow. They were so happy to have a new friend to play with and he was just tickled-to-death to have 10 horses he could boss around and control (yes, he’s a bit similar to Jill Zarin, in that regard).
Alan watched his peers work out on the track and he must have looked very longingly because…
Something very strange happened…
This fine specimen of a horse broke out one day after a couple of his friends were being worked out on the track and he charged for the track, too, whereupon the trainer said… “My God, this boy’s got talent and he wants to run.”
Our friend called us and said “I’ve got a crazy boy on my hands. Your guy wants to go to the races!”
Of course, we said “No way?!! Alan Greenspan wants to race? You’ve got to be kidding! He’s too old for that!” (usually 3-year-olds race and their careers span, maybe 5 years, at best). So we talked about it for half-a-second and we said “Why not? Let him go for it!”
So yesterday he was brought out to the real race track and was given his first chance to try out a practice run on a real California race track. Not to race, mind you, but to have a once around the track to see how he handled the noises, sights and sounds of big tractors at work, the stands (though empty) and the other horses being worked out.
Here’s a picture of Alan looking at a real race track for the very first time with his jockey/trainer on his back.
Then the trainer said to him “Are you sure you want to do this buddy?…ok…let’s go.”
And off they went.
Naturally, I thought “This kid’s got talent“, but I’m his mum, so I just watched with glee as he pranced around the whole of the track. He was fancy (that’s horse-speak) and he really seemed to like it and, for an old guy, he was full of it…speed and power. Frankly, he was pretty cute, not a quality that I think is an attribute on the race track, but what do I know?
When he came off after one trek around the track, both he and the trainer seemed to say… “That was good for me. Was it good for you, too?” As they took the walk off the track for the first time in Alan’s old horse-life.
So, imagine our shock and excitement when this morning, at the crack of dawn, Alan’s now-official trainer called and said, on this, his second day at a real race track “We just took Alan out for another run and we couldn’t hold him back. Can you bring his papers to me right away so I can get him entered in the next race. This kid’s gotta go!”
Whereupon, I went to the file cabinet, got his papers and sent my husband off to deliver the papers”.
And here’s what I have to say about that:
It’s never too late for a mid-career change and you just never know how your destiny can change. It seems like one of the most wonderful things about life is that we get to reimagine ourselves and constantly tweak. It’s not like we get a life “re-do” (obviously we can’t change the past), but we can dream different dreams and change course, sometimes on a dime. It’s our job to explore new opportunities, to carefully pay attention to that heart of ours and see what brings us real glee, because that’s what we’re supposed to have.
We can try new things. Fail, because we will, and try again. Alan knew he was happiest on the polo field. He thought he was living when he was pulling my husband around in a carriage. He’d mastered it and he really looked forward to his daily work-outs. No, his heart wasn’t singing, but he was living, so he thought he was happy. Then one day he was exposed to something new and his heart began to sing. It sang so loud he busted out of a pasture and ran as fast as he could to be with his friends on the training track and he discovered real happiness and said to himself… “now this is what I call living” at a very old horse-age for just entering the racing world. A new career for both Alan and his happy owners and why are we happy?…because like all parents, you want to see your children shine at whatever is it that helps their hearts sing and, you know what?, we, too, deserve to find that place where our heart sing.
Alan has talent. He didn’t walk around talking about it. He demonstrated it and someone else said “this kid’s got talent”.
I’ll keep you all posted on Alan Greenspan’s maiden race and my new career as a race-horse owner. Maybe I can make some money at this and I won’t have to look to sue Fabulous Fred, after I’ve gained my 30 pounds! 🙂
Learn from Alan’s story and seek out your happiness and natural talents, regardless of your age or whatever you think is holding you back, because whatever it is that you think is an obstacle, really isn’t, it’s just you getting in the way of your natural, God-given gifts! The world awaits your gifts. Share them with us!
I laughed, I cried, I felt every emotion. Here’s the rest of the story.
Race day was finally here for Alan. They had worked him like a dog, packing 1 month of training into just two short weeks and he was tired. His trainer had tried him in a couple of practice races and he was puckering out, but today was race day and Alan was all fancied up. His mane was groomed, he was showered, his hooves painted a shiny black and all his racing equipment polished up. I’m sure he had a hearty breakfast so he must have known today was his big day.
We were driving to the track at great speed, having gotten caught up in a major traffic jam an hour before. It was sad because we weren’t able to go greet him before the race to encourage him and tell him we were there, rooting for him. Now all we could do from the box in the bandstand was watch him parade in front of the crowd along with his competitors.
The trumpet sounded. You know the sound.
What happens next is the great walk out, where all the horses are mounted by their jockeys and paraded by the audience and then ridden for a few minutes on the track until it’s time to take their places in the starting gates.
Alan was number 2, which he wore quite nicely. Blue was the colour of his saddle pad & the colours his jockey was wearing. They were colour coordinated and cute as could be.
We thought “well, there’s our Alan!” very proudly as he pranced past us. We shouted his name, hoping he would recognize our voices above the crowd. My husband rushed to place his money on our boy. The options were win, place or show. My husband bet on win, of course, anything else would have been putting our faith somewhere else.
Then, with eager anticipation, we watched as Alan entered the gate and he did it as if he had done it a thousand times before. No resistance. No fear. Just in he went…and a couple of seconds later, the gates opened, the boys charged out and the announcer said “…And they’re off….”
We watched. No trips. He got out of the gate. Then he started picking up speed. Then he took 5th place, then 4th, then 3rd, then 2nd and then…
yes, you guessed it,
our Alan took first place and he kept going. Soon he was 3 horse lengths ahead of the pack and we were standing up yelling at the top of our lungs, “Go Alan, Go Alan, Go Alan, Go Alan! Our Boy’s in the lead, go, go, go, go” and then…
the world seemed to stop. We held our breadth. We froze. We stood there, everything going by in slow motion, as if we were in a surreal moment…he had just completed almost the entire race, with only a quarter of the track to go, and then…
Alan, our Alan Greenspan, the horse, started falling behind. And quickly.
One-by-one the horses started passing him up. One-by-one Alan started losing his steam. One-by-one Alan fell to the back of the pack. And, yes, Alan came in last.
It was the biggest let down I had ever experienced and I couldn’t breath. I stood there, frozen, watching. Is this real? Did Alan just have the race and then give it away? What made Alan give up? Did he start to think this was just too tough for him or did he experience something physical that made him slow it down? Was he afraid of a heart attack or was he just too damned spent?
We couldn’t believe our eyes, but we also couldn’t believe the length of the race. Alan’s an old guy compared to the others. And, not only had Alan come in last, but he came in at least 15 lengths behind the last horse. This guy was tired. He was completely pooped but, for at least three quarters of the race he was in the lead and it was completely breath-taking. He was just spectacular to watch. (I’m sorry I didn’t bring a photographer. I was so silly, I thought I was going to take pictures, but I was too busy screaming and rooting him on. Dumb, dumb, dumb and totally regretful)
We rushed down to meet him after they took off his tack. He was still hot and sweaty. We told him how great he was and how amazed we were that he had accomplished that. We patted him on the shoulder, hugged him, kissed his face and told him he was the most amazing horse we had ever met.
Then, we turned around and both cried and I thought to myself “isn’t that the very thing all parents do (in hiding) when they see their child’s hopes dashed?”
Then we talked to Alan’s trainer. She said, our boy did a great job for his first race and it was 6 furlongs, a tough distance for any horse. Even at the Belmont stakes the 3-year-old’s owner’s worry at the length. 6 furlongs is 3/4 of the entire track and much longer than most races. Considering that, he’s going to be a clear winner in the shorter races. This kid can race, she said. He’s got what it takes.
I thought “well, that’s optimism and that’s good”. I’m not sure I ever want to see the guy in another long race. He’s not an athlete and he probably shouldn’t have been put in a race that was more typical for that of an athlete. I felt sad for him.
And here’s what I have to say about that…
Good for Alan Greenspan! How many times in life do we just want to give up? How many times do we feel the weight of defeat and just choose to sit life out for a while hoping the demands of life will just leave us alone for awhile? How many times do we find ourselves hiding in sadness, removing ourselves from the living and cry ourselves to sleep because of a failure we think is too much to bare? And how many times should we actually walk past the finish line, instead, rather than giving up even though we’re the last one there?
Alan is an old guy. I am his mom. Do you ever wonder about the moms whose children suffer with defeat everyday? Who’s child suffers a permanent disability that cannot be fixed? Do those moms ever give up? Do you ever hear them saying “my kid’s a loser?” The answer is no. They may often turn their faces away and cry a silent cry for their child but you never see them give up on that light of their lives. You’re not gonna hear this mom saying it, either. We can’t ever give up on our kids because, at the end of the day, it is our voice that keeps them from giving up.
And you know, you can never give up on yourself, either. For the rest of my life I’m going to remember that for most of the race Alan was way in front of the others. And, I’m also going to remember that there have been times in my life that I’ve achieved quite a bit. Do I sometimes feel defeated? Yes. Do I sometimes want to give up? Yes. But I never will.
Someone’s rooting for me. I may not hear them yelling but I know now that they are and someone is rooting for you, too. Though you may not hear them screaming at the top of their lungs they’re saying “Come on. Get back up. Come on. Come on. Come on” but they are. Alan did not hear us. He must have not have heard our voices or known that we were there screaming at the top of our lungs for him. You may not hear anyone screaming for you, but they are.
Get back up.
Always remember…You are loved. All is well.