Pony Picture Day

1898088_10101737224669646_8796104260130019046_nToday on Facebook I stumbled upon a well-liked photo from a good friend of mine back in Virginia. The photo made me think reflect upon my life–my hopes, my dreams, my missed chances–so I asked my friend if I could share it here.

In the photo you can see my friend’s daughter, Claire. Her preschool has a “Pony Picture Day” every year where the kids get to pose on a pony for their school photo.

As it just so happens, on my bucket list, sandwiched between “swim with dolphins” and “hold a penguin” is “play with mini horses” (that’s what ponies are to me).

I’m 33. Claire is 3. She’s 30 years my junior and she’s already accomplished one of my lifetime goals.

When you see a 3-year-old accomplish what you haven’t been able to do as an old man, it really makes you step back and think about your life. So much of my life has been spent working up to the day when I too can play with a mini horse. Years of education, work, and planning contributed to me eventually achieving this goal.

Imagine what I could have done with the last 30 years if I had checked that off my list at age 3 as Claire did today.

I have no doubt that at the very least I would have won a Nobel Prize. Maybe a lesser one–Economics, perhaps, or chemistry–but still a Nobel. Statistics show that people who experienced their first pony at an early age have a significantly higher IQ than everyone else. And 9 out of 10 Olympic gold medalists either owned ponies or had multiple exposures to ponies as kids.

But who cares about hard data, right? Personal anecdotes are what really matters. When I look at the pony in that photo, I think about the things I could have done, the person I could have been, had I just experienced a Pony Picture Day of my own. I would’ve had the technical know-how to avoid the Great Hang-Gliding Failure of ’88, the courage to ride roller coasters, and the maturity to stick to my commitment to go to Shikoku in ’02. A lot of things would be different. I’d probably be 2 inches taller.

I hope Claire realizes the doors she’s opened by saddling up that pony today. Pony people are the life of the party. They’re the type of people Hillary Clinton calls at 3:00 am for advice. They’re people Ellen Degeneres takes selfies with at the Oscars. They’re the ones who get to sing the hook in Jay Z songs.

That could have been me.

Someday I’ll find a mini horse on whom I can ride off into the sunset (if it can sustain my weight). Until that day, my hat’s off to you, Claire. You’re one step ahead of me yet again.

4 thoughts on “Pony Picture Day”

  1. HAH! Really enjoyed this.

    RIP Lil Sebastian from Parks and Rec, one of the great mini horses of our time.

    Also, please describe the times in which she was also one step ahead of you.

    • Ah, Lil Sebastian. He had a good life.

      –Claire got a kitten years before I did (albeit a stuffed toy kitten that I gave her as a gift, but still…)

      –Claire traveled to see a beautiful natural bridge in Virginia that I’ve never seen

      –Claire also finished the Richmond marathon literally one step ahead of me in ’07.


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