Why I Keep Seeing “Buck”: Everyday Magic, Day 376

Okay, so seeing one movie three times in a week might be a tad excessive, but might I point out that 1) the theater is well-air-conditioned, and our house is not (and it’s 100 degrees everyday), and 2) this movie is horse-whispering revelations to me while I’m watching it and for days in between. Besides, with the Two-for-Tuesdays discounts at Liberty Hall and a matinee, it’s a lot cheaper than an hour of therapy.

Despite not growing up on a horse or near them very much, I love “Buck” — the documentary based on the real horse whisperer (although he doesn’t really whisper) — because it shows me how to live in such nuanced and practical ways that unfold in many aspects of my life. It speaks to me about how to be a better mother, wife, friend and colleague. It also mirrors some of my own story: while not a horsewoman, I found a way to transform a very difficult childhood through words. In a sense, the poem-whisperer took over my life from the inside out, showing me other ways to make a way while giving me lots of good company and guidance for the journey. This is what stays with me from “Buck”:

  • A scene where Buck instructs a group of riders on how to give weight: if you give 20 pounds of weight, you can gently pull the rope between you and another so that it’s a give-and-take or you can jerk it suddenly, which will make the other flinch (as a form of self-protection). It sounds simple, but it makes me think of times I either jerk the rope or don’t hold on tight enough.
  • What Buck says about how there are thousands of kinds of “feels,” a way to reach another with your hands, eyes, energy, attention…..and by extension, words.
  • When you’re on a horse, it’s one body: you and the horse. When you’re in complete synch with someone, I believe it’s one body too (or one heart, one mind). The “we” replaces the “I” and “you.”
  • “Everything’s a dance,” Buck says. It’s always a dance with each other too, a give-and-take, go-this-way-and-that, listen and speak, call and response.
  • This film is one of the best testimonials to making a life out of the material you’ve been given, the bad as well as the good. A boy who was almost beaten to death (and who, according to some interviews, believed his father would have eventually killed him) grew up to shift the culture from breaking and beating horses into obedience to partnering with them for mutual satisfaction.
  • Finally, this movie imprints into me another story about how the spirit can be almost annihilated but with even one good witness, one good intervention (Buck’s foster parents, for instance), even a broken spirit can heal.

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