horseback perspectives

It’s hard to be unemployed. It’s hard not to have the monthly salary come in, hard to budget carefully, hard to decide whether we can afford this doodle or that doodah. Hard to talk to family and friends, hard when meeting strangers, hard to believe in yourself. Then I met TS*.

For a little over a month now, I have been volunteering three days a week with the Hamilton Group Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). The RDA works with the physically/intellectually disabled, helping them by teaching them how to ride. This is therapeutic at both physical and emotional levels. My job is primarily to lead horse and rider around an arena, sometimes a paddock, and when lucky, a walk in the country. The ultimate goal is to help the rider (mostly children) canter on their own.

When I first met TS, I was told I needed to go with him because he disliked women, and was known to have slammed his mother against a wall. TS is autistic, and can barely talk. Most of our conversations have been rather one sided, with me prattling about the weather, and TS responding with the occasional “Yeah”. He finds it hard to hold himself upright, especially when we trot. He cannot comprehend right and left, and so finds it difficult to steer the horse. His favourite activity apart from the horse riding seems to be story writing, which always go-“Dear TS” and stop. When asked, he tells me that the grass is red and the sky is green. And the tractor is purple. And his favourite song (I haven’t managed to catch it yet) is by the Bee Gees. I am really excited because TS has started pulling the reins and trying to guide the horse.

Point is, it is unlikely that TS will ever be ‘employable’. He may always need care. I don’t know if he’ll ever fall in love or get married. Or move to another country. He may never ride a Yezdi** in the pouring rain with his mates (David and Venky, I still love that trip). Or argue politics on Facebook. He may never play a power chord or the drums. Or Football. Or Scrabble. And suddenly, perspective changes.

I know I have family who love me (most days, at least). Many of the children who come to the RDA live with caregivers, not parents. I hear that some parents haven’t had any contact with their children for years on end. I am married to my best friend. I have friends (um, I do, right?). I can write. Read. Work. Break bottles. Volunteer at the RDA. People visit my blog (!). There are so, so, so many things I have. It’s not that I don’t have a job-it’s just that I am not paid for it. Not in money, at least. Not yet.

It still isn’t easy being unemployed. I really do hope to get a paying (money) job soon, doing something I love. But it simply isn’t as hard, anymore. TS has problems. But he sings Bee Gees and rides his horse and things are better, somehow. I really hope the therapy at the RDA is helping him. It sure is helping me!

*Name changed to protect privacy.

**The best motorcycle in the world. Just a little smoky.

14 comments:

Ta'fxkz said...

As one unpaid worker in the vineyard of life's experiences to another - i wish to say 1) i am proud of you in no mild sense 2) the culture of settling of jobs on the basis of how it pays rather than how true it is to one's self has stolen many facets of our identity as individuals 3) fuck money man you will have fun though you may not get paid (i just made that up) !

4) I hope your wealth in these stories and life experiences outweighs all the cash quantified rewards in this world & and i wish you no shortage of funds to do what you have to do :D

Cheers da!

feddabonn said...

@ta: man you've been an inspiration. agree@2), and much thanks for 4). i wish you the same, bro. ah heck, i wish us ALL the same!

Bushra said...

this blog woke me up... I have no words to express myself.. the little things tht matter, are completely ignored when you're in the rat race... If all of us had this kinda insight the world might actually become a better place to live in for the privileged and underprivileged ...

feddabonn said...

@bushra: especially with autistic kids, often its the small things that matter most! :)

Blind Dayze said...

I totally agree on getting a job ..doing what one loves.. and im thankful that i'm in a position where i can say i enjoy my work... I'm sure in good time you will find one out there....

but doing what you are doing now....big thumbs up...

and i remember one man back in Aizawl who used to ride a Yezdi...and yes it was smoky....but it looked cool..

Dax said...

Be All.

Bro, Be All You Ever Wanted In Life.

Peace and wisdom is worthy experience. Best make yourself useful if you see a gap, but never crowd.

PS: Who cares about the money. Like Arjun (Wily) once put it, 'Good Taste and Money rarely go hand-in-hand.' Of course, he mean't Yezdis...

feddabonn said...

@blind: thanks. you *are fortunate to enjoy your work-i have met too many people who don't! dad used to in aizawl, but sold it in '86 when we left. this is the first i've heard of any in aizawl recently.

@dax: thnaks bro. like@"make yourself useful if you see a gap". lol@wily. quite true, though, generally!

Dad Jay said...

Good writing. Keep it up. Life surely has its surprises and each surprise is a new learning experience.

Laxmi Salgaonkar said...

I almost always don't love my job, and hafta work to support myself. Life's all about all those other things we want to do....this is your chance to do them....to make a difference to others and to yourself...love what you're doing...

feddabonn said...

@dad jay: thanks! you've been quite an inspiration to do the not-really-expected, you know!

@lax: its almost always a trade off, hey? your trekking should help restore the balance, though!

AnjuGandhi said...

Hi, i am also involved with many social work activities. and i have worked with handicapped (physcially as well as mentally) people. I know how it feels to be with them and at times i feel guilty that we fully able bodied human beings crib about so many things in our life whereas I have hardly found any one from this category complaining about their handicap. They live with it and try to make use of other faculties availabe to them

feddabonn said...

hi anju, thanks for dropping by!

while i do know a few disabled people who crib about their condition, i agree that most (i have met) do not seem to. but i must agree-the fully abled complain a lot more!

blackestred said...

Touching post. I honestly felt like I was reading from a Chicken Soup-type motivational book.
I guess sometimes, we let life drag us with its flow and forget to stop and reflect. I have so much to be happy for, yet I don't take the time to stop to appreciate it.
I think its kinda ironic that Life kills you!
All the best getting a job, I can't imagine being jobless in a foreign land, my best wishes be with you!
Btw, haven't visited your blog in a while, and I see that you've been busy. Lovely pics too.

feddabonn said...

thanks blackest! i haven't read the chicken soup series, and am generally suspicious of mush. [grin] i guess this one did get a bit soppy, eh?

it is (was) hard being job-less. honestly, it is just working at the RDA that is keeping spirits up!