Horsing Around

I just returned from the Soulful Prairies Peaceful Retreat in Woodstock, Illinois. This equestrian-intensive location is incredible!

In addition to enjoying time with the horses, we used this window of opportunity to discuss the business of being and living fully.

After our mind-mapping session, we created vision boards to help us close the gap between where we are and where we want to be.

Some of the internal inventory questions we grappled with were:
What does it mean to be human?
What is peace?
What does it mean to BE peace?
How do I show up?
What is it like to be on the receiving end of me?
Is there a difference between being nice and being kind? If yes, what is the difference?
Am I nice or kind?

This was the first of many retreats that I’ll host at Soulful Prairies. I hope to see YOU there next year.

What question are you grappling with?

© lauriebuchanan.com

55 thoughts on “Horsing Around

  1. The question you posted, “what is it like to be on the receiving end of me?” gave me pause. I’m thinking it would be a valuable question to ask at the end of each week. My intention is to be fully present, caring/kind, and of some value (if only to offer an encouraging smile to a frazzled mom or store clerk).

    I’m sitting today with business relaunch questions for this third threshold period of life: Purpose? Services? Unique Selling Proposition? I’m close to finished on the answers for now.

    • Audrey — I’m glad you think “What is it like to be on the receiving end of me?” is a valuable question to ask yourself at the end of each week.

      And the business relaunch questions you’re sitting with sound to be intensive. I’m glad you’re close to finished.

  2. Am I nice or kind? I often wonder about that. Is being nice enough? Many things to ponder. Your retreat looks wonderful. I love creating vision boards. They tell us so much. xo

  3. I wish people could understand to be human! Thought-provoking questions Laurie. I would like to ponder and write more about them.
    I have always been nice but had to learn to be kind. Now I try to be both.

  4. I am kind and I am generous….I am working on ” being” rather than “doing”. Your retreat sounds very wonderful and the joy of horses! Your questions are very thought provoking, I am sure the attendees had quite an experience.
    Our President and Secretary Perdue are firing 90% of our scientists from one agency and 89% from another (food and drug) on July 15, 2019 Busy working on a boycott and petition signing now… the lawyers in my book group are at the Southern Border helping children….no rest for the informed….damaged food for us all.

  5. Vision boards!. I love that idea 💡👍… horses are beautiful, aren’t they!… I love to see them in their natural surroundings… and at the racecourses as well 🐎 …. great post and pics, dear Laurie. Sending love 😘

  6. Dear Dr Laurie welcome back…my question is ‘are horses better than humans? Your lovely sojourn with horses and at the beautiful place with rich meaningful activities is so inspiring..I was with you in mind and spirit…my reference would also be to Jonathan Swifts Gullivers Travels, when he too discovers the grace of the horses, the second part of the question is..’why do the male species of humans get angry upset and ferocious instantly often for no solid reason… anger has destroyed a large part of the planet

  7. Hi Laurie,

    The question that has dominated my thought for over 50 years is:

    What is required to live a very long time?

    Peace is obviously part of the answer.

    Understanding the biochemistry of life sufficiently that we can remove all the effects of aging that decrease continued life expectancy with age, such that life expectancy increases with age and experience, is part of the answer.
    A lot of progress has been made on that, and more is being done every day. I suspect that the problem has been solved, but that it is not yet solved to a level that can be scaled so that it can be delivered to every person on the planet.

    Also obviously part of the answer is the social and technical and political systems we have in place.

    The mathematics of the levels of strategy involved in such things is deep, and currently we are subject to some relatively simplistic and very dangerous strategic systems (like mutually assured destruction) that essentially came out of an overly simplistic understanding of evolution (as it being all about competition).
    Much of our modern economic system is similarly founded on overly simplistic assumptions, even as it embodies some very complex and essential sets of risk mitigating systems.

    The modern synthesis of evolution is much more complex (and deeply nuanced).
    A modern understanding of evolution is clear that systems have competitive and cooperative aspects.
    Competitive aspects tend to drive systems to simplicity (remove freedom).
    Cooperative aspects tend to allow for the emergence of complexity (empower freedom and create diversity).
    Those can be recursively applied and be contextually sensitive.

    We humans are the most complex thing we have yet found in the galaxy.
    To a good first order approximation it is accurate to say that we are fundamentally cooperative, and that our existence has fundamentally emerged from cooperation.
    And of course we can all compete when the context calls for it (we are complex).

    When you look at life generally on the earth, most of it is simple. We are outnumbers by bacteria even in our own bodies (we each carry more bacterial cells than our own human cells). Complex life like us is the exception, not the rule. That can be really hard to understand fully.

    For most of recorded history the freedom of some has been founded on the slavery of others (at some level).
    That continues today in the economic systems we currently have, that essentially trick most people into a form of economic slavery.
    What hides that fact from most people is the amount of energy stored in fossil fuels.

    A single gallon of gas put through an internal combustion engine can produce the same raw physical power as a slave working for two weeks.

    With modern solar cells, a single square meter (square yard) of solar cells gives the same raw power output as a slave human (ongoingly).

    We are now developing computers and algorithms that are getting very close to being able to deliver the intellectual capacities of a human. Computers can already beat the best humans at chess, jeopardy and Go. Self driving cars are already more reliable than human beings (not perfect, but crash less often than people do).

    So some things are changing very rapidly, but our ways of thinking and our social systems have not yet caught up. And that is all understandable in a very real sense, as we all make our simplifying assumptions (mostly taken unconsciously from culture) in order to make what sense we can of a reality that is many orders of magnitude more complex than we can possibly deal with in detail.

    So we all have to have simple models of reality.

    The problems is, that most of them are too simple, and too deeply rooted in ideas from our deep past.

    And there are deep issues in there too.

    Some of the patterns from our deep past have very valuable lessons deeply encoded within them. So while many of the simpler levels of the stories from our past are demonstrably wrong, some can contain deep ideas that are relevant even now.

    Untangling that mess, and teasing out what is relevant, is no simple task.

    So how to create peace, and security more widely, and still retain as much freedom and responsibility as possible, is the big question.
    It seems to be infinitely deep, and contain eternal uncertainties, and it does seem to have some clear boundaries.

    We must respect individual life and individual liberty.

    We must each be responsible for our actions, and must each make our best guesses at being socially and ecologically responsible.

    And our knowledge must eternally be imperfect, and we must necessarily make mistakes – just hopefully not the same ones too often.

    And social and ecological systems are complex.
    Complex systems do not allow simple rules.
    Dealing with complex systems requires an eternal aspect of adaption, of “probe, sense, respond – repeat”, and the behaviour of the systems is always emergent; that is it cannot be entirely predicted in advance.

    And while we may not be able to predict with certainty exactly where the system will go, we can be extremely confident about some of the ways of destroying complexity.

    One way of destroying complexity is to force it into a competitive modality.
    Our economic system as currently structured is doing that.
    Some sort of Universal Basic Income would offset the worst of those pressures at present, and at least buy us enough time to develop robust alternative systems that perform all the many very complex and essential functions currently performed by market capitalism (but without its dangers).

    And the problems are much deeper, and go to the heart of social pressures to conformity, rather than acceptance of diversity.
    We all have our conservative sides that like conformity, and we all have our creative sides that produce novelty and diversity. Both are essential. Finding balance between them is often difficult and can change rapidly with context.

    So nothing simple about us, or our choices, or our responsibilities.

    A certain level of discomfort seems to be an essential and eternal part of being human.

  8. Laurie, I’m delighted to hear y’all had such an enriching experience in a beautiful rural atmosphere. Nothing quite has the fragrance of a pasture and simply to be outside on the farm is rejuvenating in itself. Horses are like people, each one has a different personality and I’m sure they were all selected for their good manners! Gosh, I have a thousand questions a day run through my mind, some stop to visit, the rest move on. Being outside away from everyday distractions leaves space in your mind to entertain those questions that only come up in the fresh air. Plus the time it takes to deal with them.

    • Sandi — I agree wholeheartedly that being outside, away from everyday distractions, leaves space in our minds to entertain those questions. Even if we don’t arrive at any conclusions, it’s still a pleasure to ponder them in the great outdoors 🙂

  9. A beautiful place and seeing it has made me miss our equine friends we always had ponies/horses in the UK…They are the most beautiful creatures…Such thought provoking questions.I wondered if I was nice or kind and love the quote which summed it up completely…A lovely experiene and but for distance and time one I would love to have 🙂

  10. It sounds like your retreat was wonderful. Spending time with horses is always rewarding and peaceful. A quote by Winston Churchill comes to mind, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” I of course like to change the wording to, “the inside of a person”. Having had horses for years, I believe that horses know you inside and out, and still love you unconditionally. A horse unlike humans knows how to BE PEACEFUL and KIND. We as humans think we are so evolved, but I believe the animals might beg to differ with us. Our lives seem to be a work in progress.

  11. To retire or not to retire (I will turn 65 next month on the 26th) so my eligibility isn’t in question and financially I might make just as much if I call it quits. Yet I am hanging on and might actually go two more years. Not sure yet but that’s what I’m thinking. 🙂 Great post!

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