This year our Valentine message is from Edgar Rice Burro. No, don’t be silly. Of course he doesn’t take over my studio and type his profound and uplifting messages with his hooves. That would be impossible for him to do and you’d be crazy to believe it. Besides, he’s much smarter than that. Edgar Rice Burro uses mind control. May we continue?
Edgar has a deep affection for the human species. Some animals think humans have no intellect; that they have no soul, but Edgar disagrees. He thinks humans are trainable. He also thinks they are cute with hats on.
Valentine’s Day is an odd holiday to equines who are not all that into chocolate, but Edgar thinks a holiday about love is okay. There are lots of things he loves: a good dirt bath after a grooming, fresh baby grass in the Spring, a long and sensual ear massage during muck time… but Edgar wants you to remember, equines value respect over love when it comes to partners.
Edgar thinks love is fickle: Right at the beginning, love requires a fall. You know, fall in love? How do you trust something that starts out of balance? And then, love matches can break up, people can take up new love interests, children can think they out-grow your love. You could be taken for granted. Once that happens, assumptions begin to take the place of honest conversation. Worst of all, you could even be abandoned. Nope. Love is not prudent. Not for an equine.
(Dictionary definition of love: an intense feeling of deep affection.)
On the other hand, respect is meaningful, it’s the language of the herd. Respect is based on actual qualities that exist in that other person or equine, like strength or confidence or intelligence. Respect is the link between partners that elevates gimme a carrot to a higher level of communication like how may we work as partners to achieve our mutual goal. It’s a relationship that gets stronger in face of the challenges of the real world. Respect is the very foundation of civilization to an equine because it defines the hierarchy of the herd and that equals everyone’s safety and security. Respect finds roots in something more substantial than a particularly loveable set of long ears. (Although Edgar certainly has those as well.)
(Dictionary definition of respect: to admire someone or something deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements; a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way.)
Donkeys are the moral compass of any barn. If you don’t think so, lend Edgar your insignificantly small (no offense) ears and reconsider. A strong sense of right and wrong is crucial in a relationship. He would argue that knowing right from wrong is more important than the actions that follow. For instance, Edgar knows it’s wrong to open the gate and break out all the horses. It’s a conscious decision, done with full awareness. You never get a whiny excuse like “I didn’t know we were rationing alfalfa…” or “It isn’t my fault, the Grandfather Horse made me do it…” The moral compass donkey says with blunt honesty, “Of course I did it, I’m the only one smart enough to know how the clip works and the only one with a prehensile lip that can manage to do it.” See? You don’t have to agree with him, but you do need to respect him.
Edgar says humans are such dreamers and although us equines have always loved our human’s dreams, that only goes so far. Living the dream means mutual respect. You have to show me the respect of acknowledging me and my quirks if the dream is to become real. Your dream is not all about you. The first step is to remember that every living entity deserves respect.
So, if you are wondering what your equine would like this Valentine’s day, Edgar Rice Burro suggests some honest respect. Take time to acknowledge the traits you most admire and reflect in each other: Confident generosity, a sense of humor, and a commitment to positive partnership. Honor his/your strength and amazing capabilities and respect his/your personality and limitations, as well.
After the important stuff, if there is some affection that needs expressing Edgar says he loves apples best.
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.