Life at a Gallop
Letter to my Sixteen Year Self.
This post was inspired by Shelley Sackier’s post to herself at sixteen which got me seriously thinking. I thought I would try it. It brought up some interesting points. If only I’d looked at this earlier!
Do you remember the nickname given you by your uncle? It fits you perfectly. At sixteen you bristle at everything, and in these days a spike is the forerunner of what will become a filing system: That thing on a desk on which unpaid bills, unanswered letters, unsent receipts, and reminders of possible but not immediate importance are secured. In short, notes to self. Memory stored and accessible. You never forget a thing, ever. You quote insults in the original, mimic accents with accuracy, flash back epithets, and hook out hypocrisy with dispatch. Heartless you seem but you are having fun just trying on clothes in a cupboard. Chess champion? Jive queen? Debating Society Champion? Student of the Talmud? Writer of SERIOUS criticism? Solemn political agitator? Mostly Rider-at-top-speed.
You, Spike, are becoming a rapier, preparing to do battle with the world, and sharpening a blade on any whetstone that appears. You feel that unless you prepare for the battle ahead you will succumb. To what will you succumb? Who or what is out for blood?
I have found a memory-as-metaphor amongst that ragbag of memories and it will do. Very succinct, and economical. Your life to come, already pre-determined and in rehearsal.
Do you remember that hunt when you had no mount and someone said they had a horse going spare? You mounted a thoroughbred and at the first bugle it was off making for the horizon. If you had stopped to ask about the beautiful Arab called Pomeroy you might have discovered you were on a race horse, that only knew to race once out of the gate. To bring it back you circled the whole field (going sedately at a collective canter) three times until some desperate whipper-in caught the reins and brought you back to a quivering halt in a lather and with blistered hands. The Master was Most Displeased. Very bad hunt manners!
After Pomeroy realised he was not supposed to win, but to lose to all those cumbersome shires he spooked at a river and threw you onto a rock and broke your wrist. You were led back to the meet in a splint by the doctor. What ignominy. He gave you a shiny white plaster cast to take home to your mother. That was when you were ten and you seem to have learned nothing from it at all. You know, it is okay to look a gift horse in the mouth, and to ride to hounds and not over them! You should try it. It is called the ‘field’ and it has rules.
Pity I never told you this earlier but would you have listened? Probably not, Spike. Listening was never a skill you mastered.
I could warn you. I wish I could. You will go on circling the field at a gallop and only getting thrown will stop you. Will exhilaration be enough? I hope so.