The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Recently I watched the movie The Horse Boy, which is a really cool movie about a little autistic boy whose parents (as one does) take him on a trek in search of healing to the Reindeer People in Outer Mongolia. It's a whole saga, and worth watching, and it's available on Netflix Instant Watch if you're interested.

The part I'm talking about, however, involves an episode where the father wants his son to continue their journey on horseback, and the little boy, who normally loves riding, has a tantrum and won't stop until they let him ride in the van instead.

The father is naturally disappointed and resists letting the boy have his way. The father is attached to his vision of the trip proceeding idyllically with the little boy sitting on the horse in front of him. He realizes finally that it is he himself who is being stubborn and resistant; he must give up his attachment to his plan and actually listen to the child.

This, I would say, is obedience.

When I'm on my way home and the "Battery Not Charging" light comes on, and my mechanic on the phone says it's only a matter of time until the car stops working, I initially decide to try and make it to an important appointment and deal with the car later. Then I wake up, cancel the appointment and take the car to my mechanic. That is obedience.

When the horse I'm trimming says, "Enough on this leg - time to move to the next," and I hold on, wanting to just get it finished. That is disobedience.

When I have a pleasant little revery involving my child being good at sports and she resists signing up for next season, and I realize that it's my dream and not hers and let her quit. That is obedience.

Obedience is not what we think it is.

I should add that later on in the movie, they come to a point in the journey where the van cannot continue because of the terrain. The father convinces his son to ride on the horse. At this juncture, there was a real need for the boy to do so, whereas earlier on there had not.


  1. I saw that film too, and I've also read the book. I think it was a real watershed moment for the father when he realised that part of the journey was really for him, and not for his son, and how easy it is to confuse what you think you want to do to help somebody else with what you want to do for yourself.

    It is so easy to make that mistake, with our children, with our horses and as you describe, even with ourselves.

    I'm reading Temple Grandin's 'Animals in translation' at the moment. I think you would enjoy that too!

  2. Thanks for the book recommendation, Sandra! I'll look for that book! I like Temple Grandin.