My horse died last week. He was a good friend. Lexington was one thousand pounds of power that protected me on the trail as much as I protected him. He was like me, an Alpha horse that was willing to step out in front to protect the herd when he needed to. But, he was better than me. More honest, better looking and way smarter. He was one of a kind. I saw him every morning and every night, standing watch from his spot in front of the barn, his flaxen white mane hanging regally off to one side and a shock of hair hanging down his forehead, laying right between his eyes. I’ll miss our late night chats and sunrise state of the corral updates. Yes, we conversed regularly in our own way He was my friend and I miss him terribly.
He died of colic. Horses can’t vomit, so if too much of the wrong thing gets inside them, it settles and clogs somewhere in the small intestine. It can be a rock, moldy hay, whatever. If you don’t discover the sick animal quickly enough, sections of the intestine die. If too much intestine is destroyed, the horse dies also. That’s exactly what happened to Lex.
We’re still not sure what he ate, but I know from the experience it takes a perfect storm to kill a horse. I fed them dinner early and then headed to San Diego for the afternoon and evening. I fed them outside in the pasture so the animals that ate in stalls would not be inside too long. Lex always ate in the pasture so there was nothing different for him. But, we returned after dark. On a normal day I would go out to the barn and turn the stalled horses out into the pasture, but they were already out. If I had, I might have caught it. We’ll never know.
More good news, I’m on a plane headed east to attend the funeral of a client who’s wife died of cancer at 47. A tragedy, another inexpressible loss. Far greater I’m afraid than the loss of my friend. Mine, while painful is but a trifle. Losing a wife, a mother, no comparison.
However tragic and unbelievable, and while never forgetting these losses, the human spirit finds ways to heal from them. Lex’s memory won’t fade, but I know the last frantic and frightening hours of trying to save him will. My wife wants to head to Kentucky in a few weeks to look for a horse to replace him. I told her I’m not ready to date other horses yet. But, I’ll go with her anyway, ride some great horses and likely come back disappointed that they don’t match up to my friend Lex. But, it will mark my first step in moving on.
Believe it or not there is good news in all this heartache. It’s called perspective. I’ve been doing this for 15 years now, so I’m not afraid to say that I’ve lost clients to other agents, lost deals, lost the fair edge in negotiations, been sued by former employers, flirted with not being able to make payroll, thought my career was over more than once and you know what? As stomach turning as business can be, nobody died. Each time, I showed up for work the next day, learned to not make the same mistakes twice. Each time, I ended up keeping my wits about me and riding out the storm.
As I got on the plane today, the non-stop coverage of the tragedy in Japan continued. I read in the NY Times about the rescue of a 60 year old man from the roof of his house. He had been riding the house in the water for two days, and oh yeah, before they found him, he had drifted ten miles out to sea. Now, that’s a problem. That’s what I call riding out the storm.
So, next time you lose a job to someone else, get fired, come up a little short on cash, come upon a director or producer who is taking themselves a bit too seriously, cursing and throwing things because the setup took too long, please remember you read this. Remember to take a deep breath and whisper silently to yourself “perspective.” say to yourself “well at least I’m not riding the roof of my house ten miles out at sea. Now THAT would suck.” Remember, in the end, we’re making movies and money. We work in a profession where we don’t have to perform life or death brain surgery. So, when the going gets tough, just breathe.
I’m not by any means saying what we do isn’t important and the stress isn’t real. It is. Well, I certainly know mine is. I’m saying, show toughness and tenacity when called for. Don’t take things personally and save your angst for when you really need it. Because, if you haven’t needed it yet, I can assure you the day will come when you find yourself dealing with personal tragedy or riding the roof of your house ten miles out at sea. By using some perspective now, at the very least you’ll recognize some real trouble when you see it.