When money’s tight & hard to get & your horse has also ran.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Mar 17, 2013
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When money’s tight & hard to get & your horse has also ran.

I lived in Boston for seven years.

My 21st birthday was spent…working, because my bosses (at the Trident Café out there) wouldn’t let me get the day off. That was okay; I loved the job (while it lasted). Anyways, so late that night, around midnight, I slumped home on the T (the subway; or my bike, don’t remember) and stopped by my neighborhood bar, Flann O’Brien’s, a great Irish Pub painted glossy black and red and bearing the portraits of famous Irish poets, including its namesake.

In the place of honor was Flann O’Brien and a bit of a famous poem of his:

When money’s tight
and hard to get
and your horse has also ran
when all you’ve got is a heap of debt
a pint o’plain is your only man.

That’s how I remember it, anyway, and I’m not googling this memory up. So I went in and had a pint o’plain—everyone was offering to buy me a drink—and an old white haired Irish gentleman I’d never see there again came up to me and grabbed me and, staring into my eyes, said (again and again): “Life is amazing! Live it!”

I never saw him again.

Recently, I’ve worked harder than ever and seen some of my work slow and fall apart, and I’ve made mistakes and experienced some self-inflicted loss that chills my warm, red, raw heart. I’ve lost, some.

When your horse has also ran, when life is hard, when we’re troubled and defeated and bent by life’s vicissitudes, the only thing for us isn’t to drink. Drink can be fun, sure, but what that poem is getting at is, perhaps, a sort of spiritual thing: drink can, for some, change our mind, uplift it with joy, sink it with deeply feeling compassion and help us to slow down, to join arms with friends, celebrate life, live it.

And, of course, we can do so without drink: we can do so every morning, and evening—if only for a few minutes, we can train our mind to be present.

That’s how I choose to read that poem. Life is short, and full of tragedy, callous abuse, thoughtless cruelty. And I feel like giving up. Sinking in a sea of confusion, plastic, greed and PR, elephant’s work sometimes seems pointless. And, unless we grow, I think our work (and play) is useless. As Lester Brown said, media is the key to saving the planet. As Chogyam Trungpa said, truth and gentleness is our only “weapon.”

We can be kind. We can afford to laugh at ourselves. We can look at the pain we cause, and breathe deep, and stop causing it.

Together, we can save the world. Separately, we haven’t a chance.

elephant is imperfect, but aspires to something like a personal, vital form of new journalism. We often get judged on the merits of a single article, or even a single headline or photo. And yet Huff Post, with its daily features on nip slips and sideboob slideshows, somehow attracts the support of many of my mindful friends. Facebook, partly owned by Goldman Sachs (click here to remember their ethics & role in our economy), is now the sharing-ground of the American (and world) public.

We must invest in independent media. The nice thing is: it’s free, or nearly so. We just need to share, write, tweet, blog, join the conversation. And build this indie vehicle for “bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society.”

Because the world may be sad, but it’s joyful, too. It’s precious, either way. And much of the suffering isn’t necessary, and we can, together, change not only our world’s karma, and our nation’s and town’s, but our home’s, and our own.

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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


6 Responses to “When money’s tight & hard to get & your horse has also ran.”

  1. Lori says:

    Well Waylan, all I can say is take a deep breathe and remember why you do what you do. I love Elephant Journal and your articles in particular. You are wise beyond your years and you have a voice that needs to be heard. You inspire all of us to think, to be the best we can be and to stand up for what is truly important to us all. This is such a vital thing in our time right now.
    Remind yourself of this. And if you cannot I will. Thank you for standing up for the yoga community and being a voice for all of us.
    Just to show you how much I love your magazine I am going to share this with all my yoga students and encourage them to subscribe. Hang in there and tap into your inner sunshine when you need to. With much admiration. Lori

  2. AndrewY says:

    Thanks for the words, Waylon. That was definitely worth a gratuity, really worth thinking about!

  3. Olly says:

    bravo. when are you coming to Phuket for a holiday?

  4. Feather Groves says:

    Huge gratitude for Elephant. Thank you for all that you do. Sharing this with many friends now. Keep on keeping on. Your work is not in vain.

  5. Karen says:

    Keep doing what you do! Elephant will continue to grow – I am always sharing it with friends, and I bet a bunch of readers out there do the same! Thanks for all you do Waylan 🙂

  6. Beautifully put, Waylon. I've retired from elephant, after four wonderful years of passionate work. But I'll always remember it as one of the most fulfilling things I've done in my life. Keep truckin'.