What's Your 500?
As many of you are aware, in January 2017 the HH staff and team adopted, trained and gentled 15 wild horses from the BLM in Burns OR. Training horses 7 days a week, running the company, training, balancing home lives was no small feat. On a cold morning in late March we set out for a 500-mile (+) journey through New Mexico and Arizona as the final part of training these wild mustangs. To say this undertaking was extremely difficult, dangerous, and bold would be an understatement – but I knew that would be the case, and that was the point.
The thing is, this whole journey wasn’t really about making a movie, it was about starting a movement. I wanted to inspire though action, and tell a story about purpose and life through the vessels of the wild horse, the unrelenting environment, and the un-purposed human being. At the end of the day, everyone has their version of a 500-mile journey, and it’s the choice to make that journey that will ultimately define purpose within all of us.
Across the globe people are looking for answers to some of life’s most difficult and personal questions. Veterans are hurting. Families are hurting. Moms, dads, brothers and sisters - all crippled from the storms of life. If you’ve been following our journey, then you know that Heroes and Horses is much more than just another start-up nonprofit. Everything that we teach our veterans in our program is what we (me, Heroes and Horses staff, volunteers) practice in our own lives. This concept of purpose through challenge is universal – it’s not just about horses or veterans, that just happens to be the lens by which we are telling this story through. It all begins with how we think and approach life’s situations and circumstance - accepting and knowing that to grow one must struggle, and that this process brings value to our lives. Humans oftentimes become obsessed with looking to the external to bring their lives value, but we rarely look for the things that bring us inner value.
You are going to see the phrase “What’s Your 500?” pop up a lot over the course of the next several months on our external communication with our supporters and followers, because what we really want with all of this is to get people thinking, and talking, about the choices that they are currently making in their lives, and if those choices are getting them closer to their ultimate purpose, or further away. It’s important for us to stop viewing challenge as the enemy, and instead framing it as an opportunity to make a change, to grow, and to learn. It’s about no longer letting life happen to you, but for you. Life’s obstacles change us no matter what – but it’s up to each of us to decide if that obstacle changes us for the better, or for the worse.
We all have a “500” – it’s that moment when you are faced with a seemingly unsurmountable (or un-survivable) challenge (you lost your job, you were diagnosed with cancer, you lost a loved one to suicide) and you make the decision to not give up, to keep moving forward. The decision to not give in to the easy path of turning to external crutches (drugs, alcohol, reclusiveness, anger, resentment) to cope, and instead taking the harder path (the 500-mile journey) of self-awareness, grit, resilience. The 500-mile journey is never easy, and it’s not supposed to be. But, at the end of that journey, there is something beautiful that appears: purpose and hope. The best part of all of this? It’s entirely your choice. Now, you may not be able to choose your challenge, and you certainly can’t always control it, but you can decide how you respond to it. Life is truly how beautiful you choose to make it regardless of the “500-mile journeys” that come and go. Your “500” is your chance to grow. Don’t brace, don’t pause, because your greatest ally has just arrived.
Your “500” that once was breaking you down can actually build you up - preparing you for growth, bringing you closer your purpose, and when that purpose is found life will open up her big wide arms and make room for you. Its undeniable. And through all of this, you must never confuse movement with progress - discipline and consistency must guide your steps. We never said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.
Starting next week (the week of October 9th) we will be sharing videos from a few of our supporters sharing their “500” stories – the great challenges they have faced in their lives, and the choices that they made to push through. We believe that the message in all of this is incredibly important, and the time for change is right now.
So, wake up and start that 5-mile run. Make those changes. Say “I’m sorry”. Punch that bully.
Say goodbye to that fallen brother – he is gone.
You’re never going to get your arm back. Put the bottle down, and stop making excuses.
Be relentless. Put fear in a box, burn it, and never look back. Own it. Other people’s opinions don’t matter.
Embrace your “500”, because you need it. It’s there for you.
Micah Fink, Founder