Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lucky People

In the past, when we have traveled to the beach with friends and played games of chance for large stuffed toys, I'm not the person who wins. On one occasion, we were with two friends and the guy won a large purple, stuffed elephant which he and his wife stuffed behind them inside a convertible MG, vintage late 1960's, and proceeded to drive home. It was so much bigger than our friends, you had to look twice to tell that there were two humans in the front. Sorry, I didn't get a picture of it, but the mental image will never leave my memories; however that is a whole other story.

I've never considered myself to be a particularly lucky person, but upon reflection of several events in my life, maybe I am lucky. I've had a few "narrow escapes" and some time after the event, I was struck by the feeling of having escaped disaster. One particular event occurred in 1968 when hubby and I went to Estes Park, CO. We decided to try horseback riding into the hills as part of a group trip from a local ranch. We had never ridden horses before and they were very tame which was why they were used for tourists with no experience. The guides told us, "They know what they are doing, you're just along for the ride."

We rode into the mountains and the trails narrowed more and more as we ascended. Then we met another group on horseback coming back down the mountain on the same trail. Their protocol was that the group headed down the mountain got to pass to the upside on the mountain. We were passing to the outside of the trail which also was on the edge of a cliff.  At one point, the horse I was riding seemed to step to the side of the trail which put his rear hoof toward the downhill side. I knew nothing about riding horses, but my natural inclination was to lean forward and shift my weight to the uphill side. The horse caught his footing, the other group had passed and we moved on up the mountain to a beautiful mountain lake as blue as the sky and as smooth as a mirror but cluttered with jagged dead wood.  We let the horses drink while we relaxed and wandered around.

We returned to the stable from the mountain trail. As I handed the reins to the guide who was traveling in the rear of our caravan behind me, he said, "I thought we were going to lose you up there." I asked what he meant and he said the other group needed too much room and the horses could barely pass each other. The horse I was riding seemed to catch his balance and nothing happened, but I couldn't see this event from behind the horse I was riding. The guide saw the whole thing but said nothing until we reached home. Then I realized I could have been lying dead at the bottom of a steep cliff if the horse had lost his footing and the two of us had tumbled down the cliff. Dumb luck!

Being young and stupid, it didn't occur to me to question the unwise practice the tour group had of bringing two groups on horseback on the same trail to pass each other. I wasn't screaming my lungs out at the time, I just assumed that they knew what they were doing. It has only been in retrospect that I realize how lucky I really was. It taught me a valuable lesson to the effect that when I go on vacation, I shouldn't leave my common sense at home. I tend to apply an abundance of caution about the things I am willing to do all in the name of "having a good time". It wasn't the first time I've had a "narrow escape" but I try to minimize the number of those occasions.

Never having won "things" my greatest win has to have been my life, even though I don't even do extreme sports.  I'm still alive and healthy so I am the luckiest person I know.

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