A bit of history
In the early nineties of the previous century I worked for an animal ambulance & hospital. This was long before I started to make some real money as a computer/network/software specialist and became an arsehole earning money through people’s fear. And you know what? Looking back at those years, I think I have never before or after had a job that was more – or even just as – satisfying. Animals ask no questions, they don’t care who the hell you are, whether you have smelly feet or not, what you did last night and with whom or if you drank a bit (or a lot) too much. They may go to another room, when you become too annoying. That can happen.
But in general, animals just are…
In that too short a period of my life, I’ve seen some strange animals and experienced some of their strange behaviour. I’ve handled poisonous snakes and harmless big spiders. Pulled swans out of barbed wire (you gotta love humans and their inventions, right?) and rescued ducks from highways and even a prison yard. I’ve seen horses running crazy, crashing into cars and speeding up because of the fear that made them break away in the first place.
I’ve been attacked by dogs with a brain-tumour, scratched by cats that suffered from an abscess, herons and capybaras and I’ve shared the room with tired tigers, marabous, noisy elephants and annoyed cheetahs. For all of them I cared evenly. Even the smelly meerkats, the totally ignorant sheep and aggressively kicking Shetland pony. And yet, there is no animal that intimidates me more than a horse. Whether it’s a mare or a stud, a quiet pulling horse or a retired jumper, they scare the shit out of me.
First of all, they are big. I know, elephants are big too. Actually, they are a lot bigger. And, because of that… They appear to behave more gentle. It is as if they understand something that horses don’t. Which is… (drum roll) They are BIGGER than we are and that therefore they have to be careful. They might accidentally hurt us. Which is something that the average horse, in my experience at least, does not give a shit about. When a horse feels like stepping on your foot, it will!
On the other hand, they are fully capable of expressing their gratitude, which is one of those things that most humans do not excel in. Sorry and thank you really are the hardest words in any language. And, now I come to think about it, the horse stepping on my foot may have meant it to be a joke. Stupid humans…
The horse in the above picture was the first in years – and the only one in this little herd – that walked up to me to check me out. Understandably, the others did not trust me enough to come close to the fence. Or maybe I am just projecting, and they were simply not interested. After all, what has a man with a camera to offer to a bunch of horses?
Sadly, I disappointed this lady. Since I didn’t know I was going to meet her, I had nothing to give. Neither sugar cubes nor carrots. But then again, I also had no hidden agenda in the form of an anti-worm cure that needed to be swallowed. All in all, none of us had a reason to complain. We enjoyed the weather and maybe we even enjoyed our company for a while on some spiritual level of entanglement. I would like to believe that.
While writing this piece, I received a message from a friend who just had read a previous article and wanted to say that it messed with his mind in a good sense. This, to me was good news. Not because of his mind in particular, but the simple fact that somebody reads what I write and feels better after that… What more could I possible want?
The creation of fear
Whenever we meet people we have not met before there is bound to be uncertainty on both sides of the fence. Do we like each other or is there maybe something about the other person’s behaviour that we can potentially hate? Will they talk bad about me once I’ve left the premises? As a result we often behave in ways that are unproductive. Some know better how to deal with this fear than others, and they will have an advantage. According to many psychologists there are only two fears that we are born with: the fear of falling and (sudden) loud noises. All other fears are injected by the way we are being raised, the shit we encounter in life and our nature. This leads us to the conclusion (shortcut) that we create our own fear. A dog may bark at us, but it does not scare us. We scare us.
We create our own fear. But how? And how do we stop doing it?