My daughter is horse crazy.
It came at about the right time developmentally. It is her first passion. There is something about 11-year-old girls that makes them lean towards such a state. Perhaps it is the precursor to the later romantic loves. I do not know. But I do know that it seems to usher in the period of adolescence in which one goes looking for who she will be, what she will love. It is the perfect, safe bridge between childhood and adolescence.
For my daughter, it is the first thing she has been truly passionate about. We’ve had very few obsessions in this house until my two-year-old came along. We are all obsessed with her and she is all obsessed with horses.
I was horse crazy, too, at one time.
It came with weekly riding lessons in 5th grade and reading The Saddle Club books, which my daughter now reads, regularly through junior high.
By 7th grade, my passions transitioned to friends, and of course, boys. I wrote poems and attended poetry readings.
By 8th grade, the focus was on the faith, which anchored all the other loves that were to come. I began writing stories, typing them out on a clunky old Macintosh in my room before we had the internet in our home. If I got to 100 pages, I considered it done because to my mind, a book that was 100 pages long in a Word doc. was a full-length book.
Those characters kept me company until I got my driver’s license when my gaze turned outward to the world. My next dream was to study photography. I stopped thinking of careers per se. I could focus only on the next step, not two or three steps beyond. After senior year and hauling my SLR camera and rolls of film around Europe while on pilgrimage, even the passion for photography began to fade.
I studied psychology at undergraduate and graduate levels. I loved the nonprofit I worked for after college. Throughout college, I was deeply and madly in love with the man I married at 24. Then came the babies.
But, if we continue to keep our eyes open, passions never cease.
Gardening, literature, San Francisco, championing the arts or community efforts, each passion seems to have its time. To feed my daughter’s passion, we watched National Velvet in honor of this miniature season of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. In it, Mrs. Brown says to her daughter,
“Things come suitable to the time, Velvet. Enjoy each thing, then forget it and go on to the next. There’s a time for everything. There’s a time for having a horse in the Grand National, being in love, having children; yes, even for dying. All in proper order at the proper time.”
There is a great deal is wisdom in this. In San Francisco, this week, I sat with Jane at the Infusion Center next to Benioff Children’s Hospital. Six years ago, Jane taught me how to perform a sterile dressing change and draw labs. The days of San Francisco feel far away to me when I felt scared and vulnerable and my son was very small and very vulnerable. There were people I trusted, relied on, who coached me and believed in me that I could learn to give him what he needed. People with whom a visit buoyed me up for the next round. Now some are retiring, some are moving into different roles at the hospital, and for some of those relationships, it is we who have changed or graduated or moved on.
Thus each time we go for his monthly appointment, those days move further and further into the past.
It is right for it to be so. The connection remains even if the season has changed. The treasure still holds. The goodness of all those relationships still exists even if the season for those relationships has passed.
All these passions, even if they pass, should be fed, indulged a little, not too extravagantly, but enough to allow our hearts to expand. Thus they become part of the tapestry of our personalities and the stories we’ll tell one day about how we came to be the person we are today.