Several weeks ago my family stayed in LA with some close friends who own a horse. My youngest son spent every moment inside the corral with Diego the horse.
He was raking dirt, laying new wood chips, feeding, grooming, just showing him affection.
Diego was neglected at his previous home until our friends took him in. Now he’s in good hands, happy to be on the road to great health again.
Noticing my son’s interest in the horse, they suggested we find a place near home, perhaps a horse rescue where Evan could volunteer his time to be around horses more.
So we did.
We got home and my wife reached out to a local horse rescue 10 minutes from our house and they agreed to do a trial, since he was on the younger side for their volunteers.
They rescue horses destined for slaughter. Many are former race horses, some were abandoned at a feed lot, some were surrendered because the owners just couldn’t take care of them anymore.
It was a Monday. I took Evan to his first day at the rescue and his excitement was electric.
I figured I’d stay with him and make sure he wasn’t in over his head.
But you know what happened?
I got involved and I loved it.
Please understand- you could fill a book with all the things I DON’T know about horses. I was nervous and found myself asking lots of questions, feeling awkward and unsure.
It occurred to me that it’s been over 15 years since my “first day on the job” anywhere. I’ve worked for myself for so long I forgot what this felt like.
It was scary, but the challenge was fun.
On Thursday, my son said, “Daaa’aaad… Monday is coming.”
Thinking hard I said, “What’s on Monday?”
He smiled big and said, “Horses.”
Next Monday was much better. The nerves were gone and I felt a little more confident. We knew the horses names, delivered their morning feed, mucked out their stalls and took them for a walk.
I was totally out of my element, but there was a great sense of joy and reward.
My entire work day at Essential Edit revolves around electricity and technology.
And here I was, serving these beautiful, powerful creatures. This was something tangible. I could see it and smell it. I could touch and feel the horses and interact with them. Even in these simple acts, I know I am making a difference.
Most importantly, I am also making memories with my son, investing in something that make his life better and bring him joy.
Remember- this was supposed to be an activity for Evan. The plan was to “drop and go” after the second or third time.
But now I’m looking forward to going back every Monday and serving too!
Because serving others brought me great joy. I felt like I could make a difference.
Because it got me out of my comfort zone, away from the desk, managing bits, bytes and technology all day long.
Because I am learning new skills, new language, and making new friends.
Because working alongside my son, who is in love with horses is some of the sweetest stuff in life and something I will always cherish. (I hope he will too.)
So why share this with you?
I’m not totally sure.
Maybe I’m hoping that as you get busier this year you will find something to do outside of your normal routine. Something that is NOT work-related.
I hope you spend more quality time with your kids, family, and friends.
The return on investment is more than you can measure.