On a recent trip to Seattle, I bought a card with this quote: Sit loosely in the saddle of life. I’m trying to figure out what it really means. Does it mean that I shouldn’t take life too seriously? Or does it mean that I need to sit loosely so that if I start down a path I don’t want to be on, I can jump easier?
I like it either way. I like the reminder to ease up when the soccer game in our side yard gets intense. When my kids are yelling that something wasn’t fair, I can take a deep breath and start picking the mulberries off the huge tree instead of turning into a raging referree. It takes me back to the carefree days of little league softball when I picked dandelions in the outfield rather than paying attention to the ball that never came to me anyway. When life was nothing more than ice cream sandwiches and Slip’n Slides.
It’s easy to sit loosely when talking about side yard soccer games, but what about the heated arguments with my spouse? I don’t always sit so loosely then. The deep breaths only work so long, and the mulberry tree is no longer appealing. Besides there’s a lot more at stake when discussing marital problems versus a bad soccer call. Yet over the last several years, I have learned to loosen my grip. I’ve learned that not all arguments mean the end of the world or that I will live in an unhappy marriage for the rest of my life. When we don’t see eye to eye, I have a whole toolbox in my saddle that I can pull out. Prayer, a journal, friends, counseling and soon I’m sitting looser within a new perspective.
But I’ll admit there are times when I want to sit so loosely that I have the opportunity to jump. I get into that saddle looking for an escape, looking for the perfect scenery, the perfect change of pace. But more often than not, I find these experiences lead me onto the wrong paths. Soon, the ride gets so bumpy and the scenery is passing by me in a blur. In my fear, my legs clinch that saddle tighter and as much as I want to loosen up, I can’t do it. These are the times when I get bucked out of the saddle in some sort of damaging and painful way.
You think I’d learn to balance myself there in that saddle. Not too loose. Not too tight. But sometimes I’m so busy or so preoccupied that I forget I’m even in the saddle. It’s a good thing I have the card then to remind me. I heard another quote recently that sums it up best: All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.