White-Knuckling Through Life

There are many times in life I’ve found myself in fearful situations. Whether it be a sound in the night that scares me or a new direction in life, I recently noticed something about myself – I white-knuckle through it.

I’m sure you’ve heard that term, but basically it means hanging on as tight as the human hands can. So much so, that the knuckles literally turn white.

When I hear an unknown sound at night I hold onto my covers, as if that is going to protect me. It’s irrational, but it somehow makes me feel better. I do the same in life, with other things. Holding on to that skirt that I just know I’ll fit into again… some day. Holding on to a relationship that needs to be let go of… for my health. Holding on to a past dream, instead of choosing a different one.

Last week I took the kids to Washington to visit my Aunt and Uncle. Our week was better than I could have ever imagined. I enjoyed taking my kids to places I’ve been to several times and appreciated all those places more as I watched my children enjoy them. I took pictures of them in places that I have pictures of when I was little. It was a bit surreal. A bit magical.

While staying at Long Beach, I saw that there was a place offering horse back riding on the beach. My oldest LOVES horses. And when I say love, I mean she lives, breathes, reads, draws, etc. horses. In fact, she’s already saving up to buy a horse for herself some day. I love that she has a dream, so of course I never mention the fact that although she has picked out a horse online (that lives in Tennessee) that he will probably be sold by the time she has the money to buy him. That since we do not have a farm or stable, she will need to have a place to keep him which of course, is expensive. Those details do not matter. She’s  11 and when you’re 11 you need a dream. I happen to love hers.

Anyway, I called the company and they were booked. The lady took my name and number and promised to call if they had no-shows, since we were only 10 minutes away. Fortunately, she called to say they had 2 cancellations. Morgan and I tried talking Kenneth into going with her, but he was not interested. That left – me.

Um…. I guess I haven’t mentioned how scared I am of riding horses. Don’t get me wrong. I love them…. as animals, not transportation. I had several bad experiences on horses and decided that riding them just wasn’t for me. And I’m somewhat of a dare-devil, but horses are just not my thing. I could feel the dread welling up inside, but there was no way I was going to pass up sharing the experience with Morgan. She wanted me to go with her and I knew some time soon she may not want me along.

Twenty minutes later I was sitting on a horse. ACK! I could feeling him breathing under me. Knowing he had a mind of his own and could do what he wanted made my heart pump a wee bit faster. Needless to say, I was hanging on as tight as possible. My white knuckles shining for all to see and I did not care. Right after I got on he started walking and I started saying, “Um, hello? He’s moving!” The girl helping us just smiled and explained he was just walking over to the water trough. Clearly he did not care how I held the reigns, he was going to do what he was going to do. I figured the next hour would be one of the longest of my life.

Once the ride began, we went through a trail that led to the beach. My horse kept stopping to eat, even though we were told not to let them do that. I was freaked out. The lady behind me kept yelling at me to kick him hard to make him stop. I tried and he didn’t budge. That happened over and over again. He obviously knew I had no idea what I was doing.

Then we made it to the beach. Wow. I cannot tell you what happened between the trail and the beach, but I loosened my grip and started to enjoy the ride. I watched as Morgan easily trotted with her horse, all the while smiling as big as her sweet face would allow. She was in her element and she was allowing me to share it with her.  The sights and smells were all around me, but I was missing it before I relaxed.

In that moment, I realized that sometimes white-knuckling can keep you from recognizing all that is around you. It’s also very tiring and uncomfortable. And when you operate like that through life, you miss the beauty. The contentment that comes from seeing the beauty. And the reward of knowing you tried something that was difficult for you and succeeded. Or maybe you don’t succeed, but you tried and can appreciate the beauty along they way.

I’m still not a horse person, but having shared that experience with Morgan I now know how much her dream means to her. And I pray one day she can live into that dream. You never know :)

4 thoughts on “White-Knuckling Through Life”

  1. “The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”
    James M. Barrie

    I admire the mother who encourages her daughter to write the story of her own life; (and miss the friend who could make such true observations.) All the best to you,

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