Horses And Asses And Choices, Oh MY!
“You can’t ride two horses with one ass.”
While I was growing up I used to hear that phrase all the time from my dad.
What? What does that even mean?
This was his reaction to my teenage stress. After he’d watch me fumble and stumble, struggle and juggle; fitting in play rehearsal, singing practice, homework, and my part-time job, he’d admonish me, “Janet, you can’t ride two horses with one ass.”
My reaction was to roll my eyes, snap my gum, turn my head toward the heavens, and exhale the long, deep exhalation of the exasperated teenager. “Okaaaay, daAAAAaad, I get it, make a decision. Do one thing at a time. Gawd.”
I always knew the one thing he thought I should choose to focus on was my job at the supermarket. It could end up being my security, after all, my future, just like it had become his. But truth be told, that was NEVER gonna happen.
He had little patience for my “extracurricular” pursuits. He, as the father figure, the patriarch, the breadwinner, just couldn’t understand what he considered frivolous time wasting.
And I, cast as the dutiful daughter, continued to struggle with not enough asses.
Those extra things were far from superfluous to me, hardly! They were actually my life’s blood –– my passions.
He was unable to wrap his brain around multi-passionate people, and that never changed.
I can’t say that I blame him. Us multi-passionate sorts are hard to figure out.
He’s not alone, there are many out in this world that can’t stand those of us who won’t seem to commit to just one pursuit. “Jack of all trades, master of none” was another of his old school, paternal pontifications.
After a while (years), I understood. I didn’t like it and I was incapable of abiding by it –– but I understood his confusion.
He was from the school of one horse, one ass.
Pick one thing, focus on it, and do it — for the rest of your life.
Then, and only after you’ve collected your retirement, are you allowed to entertain frivolous pursuits. Hopefully, you still have your health, vitality, and a little sass to keep things interesting.
Many in our family died soon after they retired, without enjoying much of life’s extras.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize as I’ve gotten older and hopefully a little wiser.
The things that hold passion for us in life are hardly extras. To me, they are the makings of a life well lived.
Jobs can be had, money made, the focus narrowed, and direction figured out, but it’s the multiple horses that we have the audacity to ride with our one crazy, creative, freedom-seeking-ass, that make us who we are!
Singularly Focused Exemplary Employee is not what I’ve ever wanted written on my headstone.
Badass, multi-passionate, creative, who can’t stay in the saddle; sloppy rider of an entire herd of horses, who you may hear whooping and hollering and having one hell of a ride –– and the time of her life. Now that’s more like it.
Ride all those horses with your one wild ass.