I blogged last week about the situation at the horse barn, wherein a critical player–our Barn Manager–is laid up, leaving a lot of work to be temporarily covered by those willing, able, and available. The result has been more time for me at the barn where I’m not riding. I’m mucking, hand-grazing, sweeping, and odd-jobbing. I’m slow at all the manual labor, but one reason to go there is to break a sweat, and any sweat will do.
I’ve always known though, that part of the appeal of riding for me has been its social aspects. Horses are a lifestyle choice, and though my barn acquaintances might be on vastly different political wavelengths, come from faith traditions I’ve never experienced, and work at jobs I can’t wrap my head around, we all get horses. At this barn at least, there’s also a shared value that the welfare of the horse comes first.
Because pandemic limitations are easing, and because we’ve all been on the ground at the barn a little more, I’ve been able to regain a smidgen of the social aspect of riding lately. I’ve gone trail-riding with one lady I know only in passing, had a good talk with another one about our riding histories, and visited briefly with another about our tastes in travel.
As introverted as I am, I need these casual, middling-close relationships, and I’m really glad to see them re-emerging from hibernation in my life. I tell myself that being unable to travel has been a challenge to my creativity, but being unable to shoot the breeze at the barn, unable to gush over somebody’s grand-baby pictures, and unable to hold a friendly exchange with stranger in the produce section has, I am sure, also taken a toll.
Research tells us that it’s acquaintances, not friends and family, who are more likely to put us onto new jobs, introduce us to our new bestie, help us rethink problematic beliefs, and expose us to new information and perspectives. I have wondered if our political polarization wasn’t made worse because for two years, we were less inclined to chat up the stranger on the subway or even visit with the new neighbor over the back fence. Many of us also didn’t have to go to the office where we overheard small talk in the lunch room, or debated sports loyalties while waiting for a meeting to start.
I am not yet ready to book a month in Scotland, but I am very pleased to have livelier interaction with a broader circle of acquaintances. What about you? Did you miss the chit-chat and office gossip, or would you just as soon keep the social clutter to a minimum? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Yuletide Gems (which for some reason, I keep typing Yuletide Germs).