The Optimist

Written by Hollye Dexter

August 31, 2010

There is an old story about a little boy who runs out to the barn on the morning of his birthday, throwing open the doors only to find mountainous piles of manure. He grabs a shovel and begins plowing through the shit with glee. His father comes out and asks him what he’s so happy about.

The boy says, “Look at all this manure! There must be a pony in there somewhere!”

You see, that’s the story of the ultimate optimist. Not at all the way I’d describe myself – I mean, I see a pile of manure for what it is, but these days I’m trying to look at things differently… shoveling through the crap, looking for a pony.

Let’s just say it…This year has been a huge pile of manure. Aside from my own terrible tales, many of my friends are dealing with much greater problems: They’re out of work, losing their homes, have spouses battling cancer, custody battles for their kids, divorces, serious health issues, struggles for sobriety… I don’t know, maybe the planets are all out of whack, maybe Mercury is in retrograde, maybe that’s a bunch of crap and life is just random chaos or – maybe there is a benevolent God up there watching over us, smiling because this is all for a reason. (let’s hope…)

Things happened to my family this year that I could never have imagined, not in a million years. Here we are, nice, easy going peace-loving people, and we’ve been sued, threatened with physical violence, had to learn how to file restraining orders, rebuild a sewage system, went from paying off all our debt to maxing ourselves out with home disasters, and worst of all, lost a good friend to a cruel and untimely death.

But (I hear a muffled whinnying …) there have also been miracles. Miracles of friendships renewed, old friends, new friends. I launched my blog, I finished my book, I’ve been gifted wonderful opportunities, Troy has been blessed with steady work, both in the studio and on the road, our baby grandson was born healthy and gorgeous, and all three of our kids are thriving. What more could we ask for? Its just that it seems the blessings come right in the middle of the shitstorm, and it’s hard to separate them out sometimes. I mean, when you find the pony under there, it’s all covered in poop, and you know…it’s kinda hard to tell. Uh….a poop-covered pony? Wow …it’s just what I always…wanted…I guess. Kinda reminds me of when the pilgrims gave the Indians those pox-infested blankets. Gee…thanks, you white guys are swell. But in hindsight you can usually see the blessings for what they are. (Except in the case of those Indians…did not turn out well at all.)

Yesterday afternoon as I hiked with my kid and dogs, a welcome crisp Autumn breeze blew and I swear I could hear whinnying over the hills. (Well, I could, because my neighbors have horses, but still…) Change was in the air, and this time, I didn’t dread it.

Alright Summer, I said, you brought sewage and misery and death this year, and got your last punch in a few days ago, with your searing 110 degrees. But I’m through with you now. Fall is coming, and I’ve got a new attitude.

I made the decision in that moment – I’m hosing down those ponies, gussying them up, ready to take ‘em for a ride.

Who’s with me?

( I do realize that I couldn’t actually ride this pony, because I’d crush him. But it sounded good in imagery.)

You May Also Like…

Navigating Disaster

photo by Laura HennesseeEveryone in the country is in a panic. The stock market is tanking, the pundits are screaming...

Read More

When It Rains, It Pours.

Just as I hit the submit button on my "gratitude blog" yesterday, a pipe burst in the ceiling of Evan's room, black...

Read More

Happy New Year Everybunny!

It’s the year of The Rabbit! Anyone feel like cuddling? According to the article in the New York Times today, the year...

Read More


  1. Anonymous

    Giddy up! Let's take 'em for a gallup girly. I'm ridin' right beside ya'. ~ Tracy

  2. Anonymous

    I am not crazy about animals but I too will ride the pony with you and for you and by your side, Hollye.

  3. Unknown

    Wonderful blog, as always. Can't wait to read your book! And as for ponies, they come in many sizes. We had one when I was a kid (along with all the manure we had to shovel) and you wouldn't crush ol' Sambo. Oh no, he was big as ponies go. But when he got tired, he'd kneel down, saddle and all, and try to roll over with me on his back! But even still, I say, let's ride, sister!

  4. Deb and Barbara

    Great post, Hollye! I do think the trick is believing there is a pony in the shit and then not galumphing away when you finally find the pony and it's covered in shit. A truer analogy has never been uttered!

    I am so with you.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *