One day last week when I was feeding my two old sweeties, it was chilly. I tucked myself between Bud and Pepper at the back edge of the car. Their body heat was like switching on a portable heater.

As they munched, I felt Bud lean into me. It was just a little pressure, but enough to make contact- to feel comforting to both of us.

Spending my days with the horses has been transformative.

As I soaked up the warmth of Bud’s Appaloosa body that chilly afternoon and waited for both horses to finish eating, I reflected on what contributes to the magic for me.

At the top of the list is the relationship I’ve built with the horses.

They know me and I know them.

Our daily contact has allowed me to observe them in a variety of situations. I can see when they are calm and content. I can also see when they are not. I’ve been privy to all sorts of horse politics and games. I’ve seen affectionate nuzzles and bared teeth and sharp kicks.

I’ve learned what food they like, and don’t like.

I know how they like to be approached. How they like to be brushed.

In other words our time together has afforded me the chance to map out their territory.

I’ve also made friends with other horses in the pasture. Certainly Amigo, Red and Chickadee know me and have allowed me into their confidence.

Then there’s Old Joe, who often stops by to say hello when we’re out feeding.

And Mama and Brio.

And a few of the barn horses that spend their days turned out in a paddock adjacent to the gate where we feed, recognize me as I do them. We’ve formed a relationship.

All this got me thinking about how important it is to be seen.

To be known.

Invisiblity is a terrible fate.

Certain cultures use shunning as a punishment. I imagine it’s quite effective, because as human beings we need to connect. We thrive when we feel seen, valued, appreciated, known, and accepted as who we are.

In this fast-paced world in which most of us live, it’s easy not to see people at that deep level.

We can ignore them and justify to ourselves that we’re simply too busy to take the time to connect.

“Tomorrow, or next week, or another time,” we tell ourselves.

A favorite author of mine, Patti Digh, writes a thank-you note to someone every day.

Every single day. She says it has changed her life. Her blog, 37 Days is about learning to live like you’re dying, because, as she says, we are. Every day is precious, as are the people who inhabit our lives. 37 Days is the amount of time her stepfather lived after receiving a cancer diagnosis. It prompted her to ask, “What would I do if I knew I only had thirty seven days to live?”

It’s not a new question, but one that I’m glad to remember. For me, my answer in part is to connect more with my people. To let them know they matter. To truly see them.

What about you?

Is there someone in your life yearning to be seen?

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