Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     A novel written by Charles Dickens in serialized form from 1860 to 1861.  The story tells the tale of the orphan “Pip,” and his coming of age.  Along the way, he has the good fortune to find a “benefactor,” thus causing Pip to have “great expectations” that someday he will inherit money and property, and become a fine English gentleman.  Naturally, life doesn’t work out quite like Pip planned.  And William Shakespeare said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”  So it might seem – to be safe and avoid disappointment - we should avoid having “expectations” of any kind?
     I’ve written a few children’s books, another about a frog, and one about a squirrelly horse named Shine, (he says the same thing about me) so who in the world am I to argue with two of the most famous writers who ever lived?  But sorry, Charlie and Bill…you’re wrong.  Your meaning would have been more accurate  had you said, “Unrealistic expectations are the root of heartache.”  Other kinds of expectations give us real and lasting joy, and our lives would be so much less if we didn’t have those “right kind” of expectations. 
     Maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up?  Should we?  I know we should.
     Many people struggle with feelings of inadequacy.  A good number of us think our limitations are too severe to compete successfully in the world.  But the truth is no matter how meager our abilities, we can do more than we think.  We are more than we think; we are stronger than we know.  When people tell us we can’t – this is so hard to see – that is their problem…not ours.  The world is absolutely overflowing with stories of people – and racehorses, by the way – that others said would never make it.  From Elvis and Garth Brooks, to Secretariat and Three Bars, there is an endless line of losers, misfits, and no-goods, who were written off by the experts of the world.  Yet those who had no ability, no talent - and no speed - came back to dominate that same world.  I have heard the story so much, I sometimes think half of all college graduates were told, “You’re not good college material,” by some professor - and that so incensed the person, they vowed that they would succeed or die trying.  (And by the way, any college professor who would tell someone they are not “good college material” is not “good professor” material.)
     When discussing this topic with others, people – non-believers – often say, “Well, we can’t leap over tall buildings or play running back in the NFL.  We need to be realistic.”
     While that is certainly true, it’s also true we cannot know the limits of our potential until we have exhausted all the try of every bone in our body.  We can’t all be stars, be we can all twinkle more than we once did. 
Some examples…
     Let’s say we want to go back to school in life.  Immediately, that voice inside starts saying things like “You’re too old.  You were never a good student before, why would you be one now?  Everyone there will be younger than you - and smarter than you - and besides you have been out of school so long, you could never compete with those people.  Don’t get your hopes up.”
     But if you could find the courage to actually try, you would find that negative inner-demon voice isn’t telling the whole truth.  First of all, we are never too old.  Secondly, very few of us were good students at sixteen – but most all of us are excellent students at 30, 40, and at 55, because we are scared!  As adults, we now know we must go to class, we must study and work hard, or else this can’t work.  If we actually go to school, we will find some younger students who are smarter, but just as many – or more – who are not.  (It’s easy to beat people who stay drunk and don’t go to class.)  And we will find older students who are just like us – scared - and those people will become our friends, and our shared struggle will generate strength in us both.
     Some professors will be jerks, but others will admire us for trying and become mentors that help us do things in life we never dreamed.  All of that, of course, is predicated on actually going, actually trying, and actually doing.
     One of my favorite jokes…
     Five frogs sittin’ on a log…
     One decides to jump off…
     How many frogs left sittin’ on the log?
     Ans.  Five (not four).  Why?
     Ans.  Because “deciding” to jump off, and actually jumping off are two different things.
     So it is in all walks of life.  Doesn’t matter if you want to rope, hit a golf ball, play a violin, or become a salesman.  Fix your eyes on the prize.  Don’t worry about food and drink.  Wade in.  When you fall, get up.  Try again.  All of us have meager abilities.  No matter.  No matter how meager our abilities, no matter how limited our talents; our gifts are more than adequate to achieve our heart's desire.  We have not been short-changed.  Will you be disappointed?  Will you fail and fall?  Of course you will.  That’s why it’s called life!  Get up!
     Victory only comes after many failures.
     Get your hopes up.

                                                                                               --Michael Johnson

 Ed. Note:  In January of 2012, RFD-TV’s All Around Performance Horse TV, and Roping and Riding with Tyler Magnus, will broadcast the first embedded segment of The Advice Barn, a viewer call-in show hosted by Dr. Harry Anderson, with featured guests, Dr. Michael Johnson, and Dr. J. D. Norris.
The Advice Barn is sponsored by Total Feeds, Inc. maker of Total Equine, Dr. Harry Anderson’s creation of an all-purpose feed designed for the horse.  Total Feeds, Inc. sold thousands of tons of Total Equine last year.




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