Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
They’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams, and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through
And the seasons, they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
— JONI MITCHELL | The Circle Game Lyrics
I spend a summer at Camp Rimrock when I was a wee thing and this song is the one thing I remember (beyond the fact that I will forever want to live on the side of a mountain again). It sounded deep and meaningful and full of all the things I thought that life would turn out to be.
Now I find out the ponies have minds of their own and life is not such a passive thing at all. Everything repeats, but it does so in an infinite variety of combinations. You learn from life, learn from mistakes and failures, and it’s never the same ride the second time around.
Heck, I’ve even changed ponies once or twice. There is nothing quite so terrifying as leaping from pony to pony, praying that the other horse will be there when you land. And sometimes you miss… and you have to stand up, brush yourself off, and find a new set of mischievous arboreal hooves.
I’m rather fond of the current horse, I’ve learned his tricks and tells well enough to stop flinching every time something sends us shying sideways. But now it’s time to work on faults, for he’s no dry and splintering wood, but trainable as a sapling, waiting to be teased into new shapes and growth.
He’s not as gaudily painted as the ponies of my youth, who danced about in glitter stars and a thousand shades of blue and green. Instead he sports a dappled coat of white oak and ash, with inlaid mahogany and pine in place of paint and glitter.
He’s built to last, this one, and I need to learn to enjoy the ride.