One day in Texas, while driving back from work, I decided to explore a nearby town. Working six days a week left little time for sightseeing, so I enjoyed the scenery as I slowly cruised through downtown looking at shops and buildings many dating back to the 1800s. After satisfying my curiosity about the town and its history, I drove to the interstate highway that would take me back to Dallas. As I approached an intersection, the traffic light turned red, so I stopped and waited. The signal light took several minutes to change because this particular intersection was heavily traveled. As I sat waiting, I noticed something interesting occurring on a corner next to me. Under a few trees, people were coming and going with their children to a riding ring with five ponies.

The ground was dusty and dry where these ponies had trotted in a circle countless times as kids took their turn riding these beautiful animals. Careful and calm, the small horses seemed undisturbed by the noise of the traffic around them. Each animal’s coat shined in the blazing sun along with their thick, beautiful manes, proving they were well groomed. As I continued to wait and watch, the children that had been riding dismounted, and another group of children took their places in the saddles. I realized what a treat this must have been for them.

This ride wasn’t some molded plastic horse on a quarter carousel; in their minds as this was the genuine experience. As each child tugged at the reigns and gripped the pony’s sides with their heels, I realized, it was the children’s imaginations fulfilling this experience for them. The excitement of children who had anxiously waited and finally enjoyed the ride was evident in their eyes. Also, their excitement and joy were infectious to all around them. Eventually, the signal light turned green, so I turned the corner and drove on towards Dallas.

So, why did this scene captivate me? More than two decades later, I’m convinced it was the attitude and imagination of these children that impressed me. My first experience with a pony was to watch a family member being thrown off, so I never tried to ride. I let fear hold me back from enjoying what those children had gladly embraced.

Nevertheless, at that moment, I felt those children had the right frame of mind. They never let fear or a simplified version of this ride bother them. As far as they were concerned, they were on the open plains riding free as the wind. Today, I can’t help but feel envious of them and wonder if I shouldn’t change my attitude toward things I consider to be challenging or even mundane in life.

More by Kevin F. Wishon.