The locks around the Bossy Spa are just good enough to do the job, but no fancier than they need to be. This is the lock on the paddock where we feed the horses. We clip the rusty metal gate to the leaning cedar post.
The aluminum gate you see at the back opens into a covered area where the horses and sheep can take shelter from rain. The paddock where we feed them is to the right.
Despite the simplicity of this setup, it is pretty secure. The horses haven’t figured out how to unlatch the lock, which is not a given. It didn’t take them long to figure out how to open a fancier latch purchased from the hardware store. We learned of their creativity when we saw them coming down the street toward us on our way home. That panicked scramble is another story for another day, but suffice it to say this lock is good enough.
Imagine our surprise this morning when the horses showed up in the front pasture this morning, the other side of the gate. We investigated to see what had happened. Same story as the time last year when the sheep got out. We had left the gate open.
We all like to feel secure. It can be tempting to arm our life with complicated locks, a moat, a drawbridge, and retinal scanning devices, but the truth of the matter is we are all quite vulnerable. Nowhere is it promised that we will be safe from harm.
Years ago I read Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron, an American buddhist nun. Paraphrasing a thought from that book that stays with me these many years later: Visualize yourself hanging out over the abyss, held by the thinnest of threads that could break at any moment. Now come to peace with that.
Vulnerability is our situation. We do what we can to ensure a secure life. We may save money toward retirement. We may take steps to exercise and eat healthy foods. But every person who has ended up as a caregiver knows his vulnerability, knows her ineffectiveness in keeping her loved one safe from harm.
There is nothing you could have done better. There is no better lock you could have installed to make this not happen, dear one. Really there isn’t.