Sunday, 12 December 2010

Leading horses to water

We know the old adage: 'You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.'

I hear this expression a lot and i think it's overused. This saying alludes to the preservation of life: getting water (which is an essential life force for all organisms) in a place where this is obviously scarce.

Whereas, I hear the following kind of thing on a daily basis:

'Well, i set this date up for Sarah and she won't even go - despite moaning that she's been single for a year. You can lead a horse to water....'

First of all... your friend is not a horse (probably)... if she is - then that's a little creepy, but probably a better use of the expression.

The thing is - we always think we know what is right for others... and that is GREAT! It is great that we have confidence in our solutions and opinions, great that we are creative enough to think of a solution for others let alone ourselves and it is amazing that we have the compassion to want to help others and go out of our way to do this. There is nothing bad here!

But there are so many paths to a destination. There is choice in where we want to go and how we want to get there! It's impossible to know the options of other people - so when they don't take up your idea - it's that they want to do it on their terms/ their way or don't even know where they want to go yet OR haven't told you where they want to go.

How would you have advised a three times married Albert Einstein who was unemployed and frustrated because he was desperately searching for a university teaching post in switzerland? How would you have advised Sylvester Stallone when he had been throw out of every hollywood agent 5 times over many years and didn't have enough money for food, wife had left him and had sold his dog? What would you have said to Rosa Parks if you knew what she was going to do with her seat on the bus?

Maybe Sarah doesn't like being single when she has a vacant +1 at a wedding or a christmas party. But actually likes the freedom it offers her, loves living alone and getting attention from her friends who feel sorry for her because she's single.

If one day - you ACTUALLY lead a horse to water and it doesn't drink... then use this expression. But otherwise, embrace the amazing concept of freewill, wonder, individuality and of multiple paths to multiple destinations (and the fact that some people love the long, winding country roads!)