My daughter the Latin scholar (I may be ambivalent about my dogs' talents but I'm shameless about my daughter's, so be thankful this is all you have to read about her) could tell you this is part of a larger quotation from an ode by Horace: ... Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
One translation: "Be wise, strain the wine; and since life is brief, prune back far-reaching hopes! Even while we speak, envious time has passed: pluck the day, putting as little trust as possible in tomorrow."
Life is brief. Too brief to sit at home building fantasy castles of the future, or conversely, dreading it. Who knows what it will bring? In my late middle age, an ever-more assertive voice in my head continually counsels me to stay safe, stay home, do something dull I've done successfully before. Most people who've survived to the age when one is fully assured of never again recovering the spring of youth feel this tug towards familiarity. Why think a new thought, make a new friend, why even try an unfamiliar restaurant, when you've finally got a life that won't unpleasantly surprise you?
My small resistance to this voice is one of my main motivations to work with stockdogs. When I am out with the dog and the stock, I am never on familiar ground, because I am fully present. I am forced out of my daily familiar dreaminess, my staid routines, because in order to manipulate animals, one must be, in one's mind, where they are. And where they are is Now.
There is something about animals that gives me courage. Far more than I seem to have in other realms, anyway. I remember once, as I opened the door of my daughter's grade school classroom, a four foot long iguana ran out over my feet. So I grabbed it and carried it back into the room with me. Everyone was astonished, but this is the one area of life where I seem to have both presence of mind and the desire to step outside what I know I can handle. It just seemed normal behavior to me. "Normal" behavior that included, when I was a girl, seeing how long I could ride my horse sitting backwards, before I fell off. That includes, even now, looking at a field of sheep I've never gathered before and saying to my dog, "get around."
And it carries over. As long as there is something animal in it, I can often find the wherewithal to venture outside, sometimes far outside, my comfortable nest, in other directions. Thus, next month I am coordinating my very first clinic, bringing the Canadian John Carter down to California. I wanted to work with him again and that seemed like the most expeditious way to do it, so I made it happen.
And in early summer, I will be heading to Alberta, Canada for a Betty Williams cattle clinic. I've never been to Alberta, I've never met Betty, and my dog has never worked cattle, but I'm going. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Robert Herrick. Look it up.