Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Point from the Pub

We always order Bombay and tonic.

Two rounds.

We spend them catching up on the past few months, in voices familiar as if we'd talked yesterday. Our voices sound quite alike, in fact. In the office, other people used to mistake us for one another.

There's no one for whom I'd rather be mistaken.

She's the one who hired me, you see, on potential more than qualifications. She handed me tools and let me work. When the politics blew and dragged us all through a professional firestorm, she was the leader who refused to airlift out. She had offers, of course. The best people always do. But she stayed and fought for the rest of us, and she took down the threat.

Problem was, she went down with it.

"You're the best decision I ever made," she said, along with goodbye. I figured if that was true, must be I'd do all right alone. And I did.

I had another mentor, once. He had a big ranch and a big dream, and needed help with both. I spent a year working with him on weekends, absorbing knowledge about his dream. Finally, I quit my day job, sold my house, and moved to the ranch to make that dream come true.

A couple months later, I was tearing down an old structure on the property, clearing space while salvaging what lumber I could. There were a lot of nails in those boards, so I set up a pair of sawhorses, grabbed a hammer, and started wrenching them out.

He brought over a cat's paw nail puller. I gave it a try, but it didn't fit well in my hands. I switched back to the hammer and was doing fine, thank you. Until he returned and slammed that cat's paw down inches from my fingers. He shouted that he'd been doing this for fifty years, and I'd better start doing it his way.

That wasn't our only conflict, nor the worst, but it was the last. Except for the conversation in which I said I wasn't going to live on eggshells, and he said he wasn't going to change for anyone.

He chases his dream alone, these days. Doubt he'll catch it.

Turns out he's the kind of guy who focuses on other people's weaknesses until their strengths don't matter. My other mentor focuses on strengths and makes them stronger -- both other people's and her own.

She rose from the ashes, of course, brighter than ever. Our professional lives intersect on occasion. She's still tough, still savvy, still genuine class. Still the woman I want to be when I grow up. I like knowing she's at my back, even though I'm confident I can walk the alley alone.

Last night, we finished our customary gin and sipped water for a while, wrapping up. Hugged. I told her I think of her every day, which is true.

"You're the best," she said.

"I try," I said.

"You're the best," she said.

Do you know how it feels when someone you respect truly believes in you?

I'd do anything for her.

I've never written so many words here without mentioning horses. Some of you are wondering what I'm up to. Well, I have a point to make. Let me ask again:

Do you know how it feels when someone you respect truly believes in you?

Does your horse?

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Lori Skoog said...

Great post....I think I get it!

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

Thanks, Lori -- glad someone did! It's a bit off the beaten track, but as I walked away from the pub, thinking about how much a good mentor can give (and how much a bad one can take away), something connected in my brain.

I want to be the kind of mentor for whom my horse will do anything. A bit part of earning that kind of loyalty is BELIEVING in her. :)

Jonna said...

I definitely picked up what you were laying down. Thanks for sharing that. A profound comparison.

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

Thanks, Jonna. Always knew you were a smart lady. :)

Anonymous said...

Great post...very good point. Thank you for the reminder.


Anonymous said...

Oh man....that was a perfect ending and a really good jab at the heart.

Let us all make it so with our horses. Believe in them!

What is it exactly that you do when you wear a suit and high heels?

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

Thank YOU, Wendy. :)

Kim, you flatter me. And, what does ANY woman do in high heels? She earns money, honey! ;)

betsnevada said...

Hey... that's my drink, only without the tonic. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

Horseypants said...

I'm going to think of this the next time I ride. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey...wanted to drop another note, because I have read and re-read this post, and chewed it over and tried to really internalize this point - and I wanted to tell you what a dramatic affect this had on me, and especially my mare. Every single time I catch myself eyeing her suspiciously, I think about what you've said here, and adjust my attitude towards her, and she absolutely loves it. So, I am sending you her thanks, because if she could I'm sure she would give you a big horse hug.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

Bets -- Always better sans tonic! :)

HP -- You're very welcome. Thanks for dropping by!

Thank you, Wendy. I'm glad it's made a difference for you and your girl. It's been a revelation for me and Consolation, too -- and we needed one!