I would like to share an experience I had with my horse Sweetie, because it demonstrated for me how each of us see the world from our own viewpoints. Often we may project or assume (as I did in this case) that the other should see or feel the same way that we do. Once again, Sweetie taught me in a way that I could not forget.
Sweetie and I had just arrived at a new horse rehabilitation center in Pennsylvania, in hopes of strengthening his immune system to help his injured leg heal. The farm was located in the center of Amish country. Since it was not advisable to put an injured horse in a large pasture before being evaluated by his new vet, I would hand walk him as much as possible for light exercise and some grazing. Hand walking a horse is not much different than walking a dog; horses are attached to a lead line (“a leash”), which attaches to a halter that straps gently around their head.
On this particular day, it was sunny and bright. Together, we walked around the area of the barn. Some distance away on the road, I spotted a typical Amish horse and buggy heading in our direction, which is a sight that I was familiar with as I had seen movies that portrayed the way the Amish live. Sweetie had his head down in the grass and was doing some serious grazing, so he had not yet seen the buggy. I thought to myself that this should not scare him. After all, he was from Brooklyn and if he could be hand walked in traffic without it being frightened, he could surely handle a horse with a buggy behind it. My assumption was that he was around other horses every day. Why would this be any different?
At the moment that Sweetie spotted it on the road, he took to flight – with me on the other end of the lead line! In that moment, I had no chance of convincing him that he was safe, nor could I stop a 2000 pound animal in that state. The only way I could possibly even slow him down was to throw myself in a nearby bush to gain in order not to be dragged down the driveway. This did indeed slow him down because I would not let go of the lead line. I knew instinctively knew that if I let go Sweetie would be off and running in a very unfamiliar place, which would frighten him even more.
Once the horse and buggie passed us and he saw that it was just passing by, he began to calm down. When we I calmed down to the point that I could communicate with him, I said, “Sweetie, what was that all about? It was simply a horse, like you pulling a wagon. How could this frighten you so?”
He replied, “I saw that buggie chasing that horse, and I was out of there.” It was in that moment that I realized that we each see the world through the lens of our experience or individual perception. If we can keep this in the forefront when we attempt to communicate or relate to others we become more considerate of the other as it is our divine right to experience the world in our very own way. From that day forward I was sure to be more clear with him and not just assume that my viewpoint or opinion was not the same as his.