Monday Meditation: The Horse and the Stag

The Horse and the Stag

Aesop's Fables

Artwork by Alicia Bedesky
 AT ONE TIME the Horse had the plain entirely to himself.  Then a Stag intruded into his domain and shared his pasture.  The Horse, desiring to revenge himself on the stranger, asked a man if he were willing to help him in punishing the Stag.  The man replied that if the Horse would receive a bit in his mouth and agree to carry him, he would contrive effective weapons against the Stag.  The Horse consented and allowed the man to mount him.  From that hour he found that instead of obtaining revenge on the Stag, he had enslaved himself to the service of man.

This one seems pretty straightforward. What I found particularly significant was that the horse made an assumption that he owned the plain and pasture upon which he stood. He assumed he had dominion over something and that it belonged to him. He assumed that the stag was an intruder, and he was unwilling to share the plain with what could have been his newfound friend and companion. Instead, he immediately became defensive and plotted "revenge".  I've seen people who behave this way and I've seen the outcome.

Assumption is ugly. It gets us into all kinds of trouble. I assume that people are going to treat me a certain way or behave in a manner to which I'm accustomed based on my own perceptions. The biggest problem with assumption is that it fills the void of communication.

I've seen people who have assumed many things about me. I've been accused of writing a blog post specifically about someone and that person wasn't even a thought in my mind. I've had people plot revenge against me for allegedly saying and doing things that I hadn't even considered. I've been the subject of many a hurt feeling simply because people assumed they had greater importance in my life than they truly did. I know you can relate. I can almost see you nodding your head right now. It's happened to you, too.

I've also been guilty of assuming things about others. In my younger days, I would assume things about relationships without asking. I would assume that certain behaviors, rules of etiquette that I grew up with, and cultural norms were prevalent and went without saying. I learned some painful lessons that way.

Expectation always goes hand-in-hand with assumption. Because we assume something, we expect a specific result. It's like an "If-Then" sentence. If I do this for you, then you will do this. If I have been here my whole life, this land belongs to me; then you don't belong here and I must defend it. If someone claims you said this about me or your words hit home for me, then it must be true and I must repay in kind.

Invariably, the person who seeks revenge loses freedom. As the horse became enslaved to the human, so does the person who makes it his/her life's mission to pay back assumed offenses. To make me or you or someone else the focus of your anger, angst, and animosity is to put me, you or someone else in charge of this person's life.

How much time is wasted on these kinds of pursuits? How much of our lives do we waste thinking about perceived offenses? Why is there never direct communication in these situations?

If the horse had simply talked to the stag, what would his life be like? He may have found a new friend instead of an enemy. He may have run free with the stag. Perhaps they would have taught each other something valuable. He could have found that his life was enriched and expanded, rather than being enslaved to the human hunter on his back. He may have found that the stag was lost and didn't intend to encroach. There are so many issues that can be resolved through confronting a situation or person or both head-on.

I love the mantra, "Fix It Or Forget It."  It makes life simple and keeps one free from these encumberances. Fix it- stop assuming and expecting and simply ask or say what you want/need. If it doesn't result in the outcome you want and you can't fix it any other way, then forget it. It isn't worth your time and energy. You have other things to do.

Try practicing this for a week and see how it goes for you. Let me know your results.


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