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Out of Control

Back during my high school years every Summer, I would ride one of my older cousin's horses in the July fourth parade in East Smithfield, Pennsylvania. East Smithfield is a quaint little country town in the hills of Northeastern Pennsylvania. During the 70's they had the largest most spectacular celebration out of all the towns in Bradford County. It was an all-day event with many things to see and do. The day was polished off with a square dance and a live band at that.

The celebration always began with the big parade through the town. Unlike the parades today there were many beautifully decorated floats and an array of equestrians in the parade. It wasn't just composed of fire trucks, ambulances, and antique cars like today's parades. The sidewalks on both sides of the street that ran through the main street of the town would be crowded with people waiting with anticipation for the parade to begin.

I looked forward to this time of celebration throughout my high school years till one day when I had a bad experience. Eight to ten of us would come early to my older cousin's house every July fourth and decide who was riding what horse. Each person would groom their horse and saddle up and off we would ride single file up the route which my cousin had laid out for us. It was always a route through the back dirt roads which would lead eventually directly into town without all the worrisome traffic to deal with.

The last time I rode in the parade afterwards everyone dismounted their horse and formed a circle to discuss who was going to ride May Boy back home. I remember thinking to myself, "What's the big deal? I've ridden May Boy many times at my Aunt Hannah's house." I didn't understand or know why no one wanted to ride him home but they all knew. I piped up finally and volunteered to ride him home. I took the same dirt roads back to my cousin's house but the only route from there to my aunt's was the main drag which was heavily traveled usually and a paved highway at that. My older cousin and his buddies were following us in a car and at first, I didn't know why but it soon dawned on me why.

Once I crossed the first and only four-way intersection May Boy took off on me at a full gallop. He was running as fast as his legs would stretch. I couldn't stir him, nor could I get him to stop galloping, so I hung on for dear life. In desperation I looked back at my cousin as if to say, "Help me!" But I was sorely disappointed because instead I observed him and all the others in the car laughing their heads off. I thought to myself, "How can they think this is funny? I could be badly hurt and May Boy too. It's not funny!" I felt I was set-up and indeed I was but too late now to wise up. It was apparent that they weren't going to come to my aid so I began to pray for God to protect May Boy and myself. Mind you, we were going up those hills in the center of the road because I couldn't stir the horse or control his speed. I found myself at the mercy of that horse who wasn't listening to any of my cues. I was anticipating a car popping over every hill and hitting us head-on. I was visualizing that and could see us both smeared all over the highway. It would not have been a pretty sight.

My anxiety and fear level were very high at this point and time. I could only imagine the worse happening and I was astounded that no cars came or went in either direction. We were on the highway alone except for the carload of laughing idiots behind us. Thank God we didn't meet any cars!

I was so mad at my cousin and when I dismounted, I gave him an earful which didn't faze him a bit. He just laughed all the harder. Regardless to say, I never did ride in another parade after that escapade.

It's scary to not have any control but after many years of living I realize there are many things in life that you and I can't control. You and I can only control the following: our own thoughts and actions, how we speak to ourselves, how we spend our free time, how we handle challenges that come our way, what goals we set for ourselves, our own personal boundaries, and what we spend our energy on. Those are the only things you and I can control in life.

The things that are out of our control are the following: other people's opinions, the past, the actions of others, things that happen around us, how others choose to care for themselves, what others think of us, the outcome of our efforts, and the future. You and I can't control any of that and it would be futile for us to try.

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