love a horse and talk to plumbers

“Love a horse and talk to plumbers. Ask questions of everybody and don’t hide your ignorance, for ignorance is simply the unlit side of curiosity and the outside of the door to wisdom and knowledge. Be a limitless person to others and maybe you will stretch them more than your art does. Let’s hope.”

– Harold Best’s letter to artists as recorded in Scribbling in the Sand by Michael Card

The entire letter Harold Best wrote is too long to quote, but this part was my favorite. It came on the tail end of his encouraging the reader to be open to learning about things outside of their own natural interests and specialties. He reminds us to take our head out of the middle of our own projects and pursuits long enough to learn about owls, race cars, geography, the law of gravity, spit.

This both overwhelms and delights me.

As my youngest enters kindergarten next week, I think of all the things I want him to learn, things I want to teach him, things the world wants to teach him.

I pray he never forgets his questions and curiosity.

I pray I don’t forget mine, either.

I’m not exactly sure what it means to love a horse and talk to plumbers in the midst of the everyday life stuff, in the midst of just finally figuring out that thing I really want to do, in the midst of learning my own art and being brave enough to share it, in the midst of junk mail and school supplies.

It must have to do with gratitude, with seeing beyond my own obsessions, with being present in the moments and not always consumed with me and mine.

What are some ways you love a horse and talk to plumbers? Or maybe you love a plumber and talk to a horse?


  1. says


    I wonder if anyone else thought your post title would make a great Country music song; or maybe it’s ALREADY one and I’m just that far out of the loop :).

    Regardless, once a friend admonished me for asking so many questions; I was taken aback because I thought it was “good,” that it demonstrated my interest. BECAUSE I REALLY AM CURIOUS and INTERESTED, not just nosey.

    Sometimes I’m quiet when I feel like I’m supposed to know something but don’t; how sad. I don’t want that part of me to ever be silenced, ya know.

    Love this quote you shared…has me thinkin’ anew this morning :).

  2. says

    I just love this! I’ve always been interested in practically everything, and can’t understand people who aren’t curious, so this definitely spoke to me. :)

  3. says

    I love this. Once you’re a grown-up, you don’t necessarily have to learn about anything new you’re not really interested in, not the way you had to when you were in school. But I think that our life stories open up avenues we would never have taken, topics we’re not naturally curious about. When we got a dog last November, I had to learn about dogs; I’m not really an animal lover, not naturally anyway. When one of my kids was diagnosed with dyslexia, I had to learn about that; I read a whole book on the brain this summer and I learned how it functions differently for dyslexics. And I can’t believe I’m saying this but it was riveting. Truly.

    Sometimes the people {and creatures} in my life lead me away from myself and open up new worlds I would never have opened otherwise.

  4. says

    I think it has something to do with finding others and their lives as fascinating as we find our own. Being open, always open, to the new and the old and everything in between. Artists have to be in a constant place of receiving in order to have something worthwhile to give, and it all starts with a sense of curiosity and love for life. And horses. And maybe plumbers too:)

  5. Nelson's Mama says

    I believe he’s suggesting that we open our hearts to the unconditional love on an animal and that the plumber, often misaligned, might be one that could offer wisdom and insight. I think it’s his “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” admonishment.

  6. says

    “Talking to plumbers” makes me think of when I was younger (pre-teen – teen years) and Dad would be out working on the car in the garage…I would go out, and ask him questions about the different parts, what they did, why he was fixing this-or-that… I still do talk to plumbers, or mechanics if I can without disrupting their work! I like to know how things work, and sometimes I think they appreciate the company and interest.

    Re-reading the quote also makes me thing that no matter what vocation people have chosen, they are people, God’s creations, and we can learn from them – and hopefully, if we show His love and kindness and even respect to them, they will see glimpses of Him through us (and in spite of us…)

    Thanks for the quote!

  7. Vicki says

    To me love a horse and talk to a plumber related to the saying…….. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. He is saing not only lead them to the water but love them while leading. Leading does not make you be vested in the horses desire to be curious or like something. But if you “love the horse” you would care. When he talks about “talking to the plumber” I think he means be sure and keep the water flowing. Keep that knowledge ,if you will, pouring in through many pipes so that horse you are loving and leading will have every opportunity to drink in fresh new ideas.

    Am I crazy…. Just hit me that way!

  8. says

    I love your words this morning, Emily. This validation that loving and inquiring and seeking to know more and feel more and see more do not take us away from our calling, but instead infuse it with texture and life. Learning and loving — isn’t that so much of what this journey (all this journey) is about?

    • says

      I guess I didn’t answer your question. :) With a journalism background and a natural love for peoples’ stories, I try to talk to plumbers as often as I can. It’s amazing how much I learn and how it helps me take the focus off myself. As for loving, there are so many horses in my life that it can be difficult to reign them all in. But I’m thinking maybe I don’t need to.

  9. says

    I just had a coffee conversation with a friend who said that it seems like people don’t take the time to notice anything outside of their own world. She’d been taking care of her three kids while her husband was away and none of the people she works with noticed how stressed out she was. I think that we’ve lost the art of paying attention to the pain and joy of others around us in the culture of busy. This is what I thought about when I read your post. It sort put it all in perspective, as you often do for me Emily.

  10. says

    ” in the midst of just finally figuring out that thing I really want to do” – That. That is a really good place to be. I’m blessed to have moved to a new state and have the opportunity to discover just that. I have not settle on what that “thing” is. It seems like all that time in the past when I would dream about possibilities I would know…but I just don’t.

    I think that there is a dynamic between caring for something/someone (loving the horse) and having an inquisitive mind (talking to the plumber) that the ‘magic’ of life happens. The kind of life we would call extraordinary. I don’t think we can dwell in one sphere alone….we need the overlap of both.

  11. says

    Great post. I think about this sometimes when my children are asking questions and what I really crave is solitude. Goes back to being addicted to the island of myself…but that’s another post. Anyway, I love how they are really into soaking up information and knowledge. They want to know everything there is to know about Star Wars, Ninjago, Mustangs, bridges, tunnels…the list goes on. I am mindful that this is what matters and I need to pull away from my own projects and learn right along with them.

  12. says

    My dad would always say “in this family we don’t guess, we look it up!” The truth of that statement marked by the stack of encyclopedias on our dining room table. He always fostered questions and enthusiasm and learning.
    When I read the quote my mind went to loving the beauty around us- horses, trees, all the amazing creations of God. And to notice the dailiness of life- talk to plumbers, slow down, don’t rush so that we aren’t seeing the people, the events in the moments life it made of.

  13. says

    I love asking people how their marriage is doing and then just sitting back and listening. It’s amazing the insights and wisdom that can be gained. Just today my 78 year old friend Jayne was over and I got to ask her this very question.

  14. says

    It’s been quite awhile, but my hubby and I used to love going to the bookstore and pulling out art books, cooking books, biographies, how-to’s, and then sit in some big comfy chairs and page through them all. It’s fascinating, letting your mind grow. I’d forgotten about that past time, but now I want to go back, with our little one in tow. Perhaps we could find some picture books to keep her fancy. And perhaps we could all stretch our minds, ask questions, and explore some new creative outlets :)

  15. says

    I didn’t talk to a plumber today, but I talked to an insanely cool colleague who is in IT for a College of Education. We sipped coffee at the university library and chatted about work. We’re both geeks. She out geeked me today. She had literally checked out a book about quantum physics. I laughed when she told me like “ha ha, no really, is that Jane Austin?” Nope – quantum physics – for fun. Fabulous. Loved that coffee today. Loved it.

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