PASSION!

Tempis fugit.  Full court press.  Life is daily.  Those are my reasons for not having written a blog in four months.  That, and horses are back on campus. Daily care. Daily training. Rolex. Internships. Adopters.  Board meetings. Committee meetings.  Visitors. Lectures. Phone calls. Emails. Trying to raise money to keep going. A never ending “to do” list. At the MMSC, it takes all day to get from A to B.  At the height of the season, I’m lucky to get from A to a.  

So be it.  “All passions lead to the cross,”my mother told me one day when I was young.

I had no idea what she meant at the time. At my tender age, I didn’t connect the word with its Latin origin,“passio,“to suffer.”  Nor was I educated or religiously savvy enough to reflect on the meaning or message of the “Passion of the Christ.” 

Tempis fugit.  Decades have passed.  I now know what Mom meant.  Throw yourself into something--your studies, your work, your sport, your mission. I mean really throw yourself into it, with the intention of the highest level of success: Summa Cum Laude, CEO, Olympian, changing the world because you LOVE the subject matter, or what you are doing, and the challenge of doing it and the reason and purpose for doing it, and you will feel both the privilege, because it is a  privilege, and the weight of  passion. Blessing and bane.  Passion is both. It is mighty love and mighty sacrifice. 

The sacrifices will be small at first: Pleasures, leisure time, friends.  Keep at it, and they will add up: Relationships, children, money, memories, health.  A passion can consume all. And with each sacrifice, something dies. And although you grieve for your loss, you don’t linger. There is too much to do. You are fueled and propelled by your pledge to the service of something bigger than yourself.  

Last week, I had the honor of being on a Thoroughbred Aftercare Panel at the Kentucky Farm Manager’s Club meeting. Panel speakers included, Anna Ford, Thoroughbred Program Director of New Vocations  (www.horseadoption.com) three representatives from Pegasus Therapy Center in Brewster, New York (www.pegasustr.org), Marney Mansfield (Clinical Coordinator), Emily Wygod (Program Coordinator) and Laura Stringer (Equine Coordinator), and myself. Each one of us talked with enthusiasm and at length about our organization’s mission and efforts. With so much enthusiasm and at such length, that at lecture’s end, nary a question was raised.

Then just as people were hovering to leave, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, raised his hand and ventured, “I’ll ask a question!!!” 

He stood up and looked at the audience. “I’ll ask it, but I  already know the answer,” he said, cryptically.

Then he turned to us.

“ Ladies,” he asked, “how do you do it?

“That’s easy!,” Emily Wygod blurted out before anyone of us, “WE LOVE IT!”

“Yes,” said Chris. “You have PASSION!,” and, turning to the crowd he added, “And everyone in this room should be grateful to you for your passion and for all that each of you do!” The crowd rose in acknowledgement, clapping. 

It was humbling.  Everyone who works in an aftercare charity knows how the daily grind can wear you down to nothing. The sheer fatigue of physical work, mental problem solving, and emotional worry about funding takes its toll. I admire all my colleagues in this noble and challenging field. In particular, I marvel at the commitment of those who work for me, both the paid and unpaid. I wonder more often than not, how we can keep up the good fight one more day. What a crazy effort and ordeal!  A never ending problem. Is it worth it?

And just when you are ready to give it all up, you get a standing ovation. Or an email arrives with a heartfelt thank you from a delighted adopter. Or a visitor tells you that he or she loves volunteering just to be close to a horse. Or you go to the barn before closing up for the night, and you are greeted with rumbles and nickers, and when you  slide open a stall door to check water buckets and nighttime hay supplies, you feel warm breath and a satin muzzle against your check.

At these moments, time stands still.  The perfect peace of the present suffuse and regenerate you. And, somehow, miraculously, you are readied for the task again. You find time at night after a long day to write that blog after four months of silence. You welcome the newest horse and the next adopter. You reach out to more donors, seek more grants. You tote that bale. You show up in the morning and willingly take up your cross. 

That’s passion.  Grueling, yes.  But, the rewards are divine.

                                                             Cheery bye,
                                                              Susanna