Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
MY FAIR LADY…
The Assyrians and Babylonians
told the tale long before, but the first written record of
the story comes to us in written form from the Roman poet,
Ovid. In his tenth book of Metamorphosis – written over
2,000 years ago - Ovid weaves the spellbinding tale of
Pygmalion, a sculptor, who carves a statue of his ideal
woman from ivory. He names her Galatea, meaning “she who
brings the light.” Venus takes pity on him, and she turns
the lifeless nothing into a living thing…and Pygmalion finds
his love. And from this great myth, we learn a great
message…that something wonderful can come from what
appears to be nothing.
In 1912, the Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw,
sets the tale in London and we watch as Professor Henry
Higgins transforms Eliza Dolittle into a new creature. In
1964, Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, provided the basis for
Lerner and Loewe’s musical, My Fair Lady. And we
watch, after all these years…still spellbound.
I have always been far more interested in
underdogs than showdogs. After all, I was the former and
while never quite becoming the latter, I did change my
ways. Later in life, I began to wonder why. Still later, I
began to wonder why does anyone? Why do some people
continue to waste their lives, and yet others make at least
an attempt to turn their lives around for the better. Why
is that? I’ve seen it in countless horses and even in
working stock dogs. They are utterly worthless for the
longest time, then suddenly they become something
new…something that cares and tries. The answer was always
in the story…
A Pygmalion came into their life.
I always recommend to…well, anyone who will listen -
that if we want to learn how to help - how to reach people,
or indeed, reach any living creature, one should get a big
bag of popcorn, turn the sound way up, and watch all
– the entire three hours - of My Fair Lady.
Certainly for the costumes, the music, and the so clever
dialogue, but more importantly, from the perspective of how
it is we help another reach their potential. Ovid’s words –
and Shaw’s – are full of meaning, such rare wisdom, and
clear truths, that if we pay deep attention, we cannot help
but be moved to a new place. A place where we become better
at doing the best thing we can do…help our brother and
sister become more.
At this point, someone always says, “But you can’t
make someone want to. You can’t open up someone’s mind
and heart and pour in desire. You can’t motivate another.
Motivation has to come from within. A person has to want
to.” That is a seductive way to think. Reminds me of the
old joke about how many psychologists does it take to change
a light bulb?
Ans. “One…but the light bulb has to want to change.”
There are some people on this earth who can help that light
bulb want to change.
I know that we can. I know because it
was done to me, and I’m betting it was done to you.
Someone made you feel differently about your self. When
someone believes in us before we believe in ourselves, we
want to more than we once did. That is the moment we
begin to become more. In Faust, Goethe says, “Correction
is good. Encouragement is better.” That’s what Henry
Higgins does for Eliza. He knows she can do it, and when
she hears his words, and begins to believe…her soul opens
it’s sleepy eyes.
It’s true of humans. It’s true of horses.
In the early so troubled days with the horse called
Shine, he used Pygmalion to help me see what he
“Here’s Miguel’s problem,” he says. “It’s in
Pygmalion you know. It’s right there. He just can’t
see it yet. But if he ever does, things will be different.
It’s right there when Eliza says, ‘That was the beginning
of self-respect for me. You see, the difference between a
lady and a flower girl isn’t how she behaves…it’s how
Then Shine adds, “Ain’t it a shame Miguel doesn’t know
that’s true of roping horses, too?”
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.