Written on March 29, 2011 by Dr. Laurie
A friend of mine gave me a fascinating book. It’s titled The Age of Empathy (by Frans de Waal.). The author is a biologist who studies animal behavior and draws lessons for humans to learn.
One story he told captured my imagination. It is a story about some horses who got trapped on a patch of dry land in the middle of a field when there was a flood. Several of the horses drowned, and there was great consternation about how to get the remaining ones to safety. Engineers thought about constructing a pontoon bridge, but another simpler and more elegant solution appeared. Several women on horses from the local riding club arrived and went through the water to the trapped horses. They mingled with them for a little while, and then began to move back towards the dry land. This involved both wading in the shallows, and some swimming. The trapped horses joined with the new ones and came back over to the dry land with them.
The horses didn’t know what to do until they were shown how to go forward. Without the companionship of the other horses, they would have remained stuck.
I think about this because those who live with chronic illness can often feel trapped. They can’t see the way forward. It seems unknown and daunting.
Many of you are experienced and savvy in the ways of “getting through.” You have gained some years of working on being healthy and positive.
Where might you contribute to leading another forward, onto safer space? What might you contribute if you spoke up, added your voice and your story?
The tale of the horses reminds me that we need each other – and often we need particular others who know the way when we’re frightened or unsure.
Look for your opportunity and step into it. You’ll never know what it can mean to another.