Riding Painted Ponies

Remember that Blood, Sweat & Tears song (well, some of you young ‘uns might not) Spinning Wheel?

What goes up must come down
spinning wheel got to go round
Talking about your troubles it’s a crying sin
Ride a painted pony
Let the spinning wheel spin

Sometimes my life is like a song and lately it has been Spinning Wheel. I have always loved this song. It has a killer arrangement, fabulous horn section and psychedelic lyrics. Pretty much ticks all the boxes for me.

But it’s the sentiment expressed in the lyrics that fit me at the moment.

Everything comes full circle. To experience real emotional pain is difficult to write about. You actually get tired of going on about it.

You also get tired of constantly employing all the little strategies that help you deal with it. The long walks, the yoga, the vitamin supplements, the positive headspeak, the taking things day by day, the letting things go. The waiting. The endless waiting.

Keeping a breakdown at bay is a full time job. You teeter on the brink of a cliff with barely a foothold. The black sea below looks incredibly inviting.

You feel like taking an axe to people with their constant positive affirmations and assurances that things can only get better. Tell that to my fragile psyche, you feel like shouting. This is a daily battle for me that’s been going on for years and I’m tired of it. I just want some peace from constantly trying to stop myself from descending into full metal jacket insanity.

When you’re deep within the swirling vortex of mental agony that has a half-life longer than plutonium you do not believe you will ever make it back up to the sunlight. But you do. Because the wheel turns whether you want it to or not. For good or for bad things just cannot stay the same.

So when the sun is out but you can’t see it no matter how hard you try – don’t give up. For the wheel is turning as you look. Do what you have to do to get through the day. Hold on. Ride that painted pony and let the spinning wheel fly….

17 thoughts on “Riding Painted Ponies

  1. I once saw a poster on the wall of a flightline office:

    ‘What goes up will eventually come down.
    Make sure you’re in control when it does!’

    Guess that apples to life as well as to aviation.

    Hang in there, girl!!


  2. oh selma,, you and i are alike in so many ways.. i too feel like i am swirling the bowl at times.. i just want to feel normal.. i just want to feel like me again.. but it has been so long it is hard to identify who me is anymore..

    but i am not giving up.. i keep putting one foot in front of the other,, and i know eventually i have to come out the other side…

    thank you for posting this as sometimes i feel like i am the only one that feels like this..


  3. Sometimes the only certainty in life is that nothing ever stays the same. That can be good news if you’re going through a trying time and it sounds as if you are.

    Depression is like a big black dog that is always chasing you. You somehow manage to just keep ahead of it most of the time but every now and then you feel it’s sharp teeth nipping at your heels.

    Sometimes the big black dog gets tired of the running too Selma and backs off a little from the chase. I hope you get a repreive soon. Big hugs my little mate.


  4. Believe it or not, I recognized the song. Which surprised me because my parents didn’t listen to that much music, except Simon and Garfunkel.

    Keeping a breakdown at bay is a full time job. You teeter on the brink of a cliff with barely a foothold. The black sea below looks incredibly inviting.

    My breakdown is apathy. I long to no longer care, to just let it wash over me and give up. It’s funny though, when I feel that way, one of the kids will walk in, and I’ll think, “They deserve better.” It’s what kicks me in gear and forces me back into hope. Because if I have no hope, what do they have? Somewhere, something good is being done, and if I don’t contribute to THAT part of the world, then I’m guilty of adding to the other.

    Serve, serve, serve. It uplifts every time – and not in the fake affirmation way either. Maybe not just my children or family, but serving others in the community, or even in the world. (One of the best things I ever did to give my family hope was to organize with Redbeard a drive for blankets to be sent to Afghanistan when the earthquake hit – because of our drive, SE Idaho literally sent over 1500 blankets!)

    KayDee is right – the black dog is always there waiting to devour, but constant vigilance will make him weak and tired. We can all win the war. 🙂


  5. You can add mind-reading to your list of talents. What you are describing here is exactly where I am at. And I agree, if ONE MORE PERSON tells me to “think positive” and “think abundance” and all will be just swell….Ive had it up to here with these well-meaning but meaningless (for now) sentiments that just don’t make it all go away.

    “We’re gonna make it after all…..”(hat rising up in the air) how’s that for an oldie but goodie?

    I wanted to be MTM! 😉

    Hugs Sel, hang in there….


  6. Yes, you are right it is a full-time job. I remember that so well. I was focused the whole time on maintaining control, trying to talk myself to sense, convincing myself that I had felt a little bit better than the day before, trying not to hear music that would make me cry, trying to see. I never saw anything I don’t think for six months – I could do day-to-day living but I couldn’t do anything more, whole buildings could have disappeared, or my children could have changed colour and I wouldn’t have seen!

    But it did pass. But it did take a long time. And I have no idea when it ended. But there came a point when the speed of recovery definitely got faster. And then it was gone. Well, perhaps it is never quite gone.

    You will get there. In six months time you;ll read this and breathe a sigh of relief. Actually you’ll probably blub for your poor sad self – that’s what I do if I read old posts!!


    It’s funny you should mention a poster because I am often cheered by slogans I see on posters that having nothing to do with what I’m feeling but they have a quirky byline or something that makes me laugh. Hail to thee power of advertising!

    I really appreciate you saying that. I suspect this post and similar posts I have written may fall into the category of oversharing, but if just one other person reads this and goes: ‘I feel that way too’ then it is a good thing. Thank you for visiting!

    I won’t give up either. You and I will keep walking down that path that we cannot see the end of yet – one foot in front of the other. I’m with you, hon!

    It is a strange thing, but I can function really well when I feel like this. I mean, no one would ever know to look at me. But sometimes at night I just collapse on the couch, exhausted from trying to stay ‘up’ all the time. I think I need the dog whisperer to come and tame my black dog. Where are you Cesar Millan?

    Aaah, Tex. You are a wise woman. I have found helping others is the tonic. It seems contradictory that the way to help oneself out of a funk is to help others, but it actually works.

    I can just imagine you mustering everyone to collect those blankets. I bet it was hugely rewarding.

    There is a Native American proverb I like that highlights what you say –
    ‘If you yourself would feel fine, heal and serve and give from time to time.’
    So much truth in that!

    MTM was awesome. Things will get better for you, G. I know it. You can join Paisley and I on the path with no end. We’ll just keep walking. It’s going to be OK, hon!

    I know it will go. I see glimpses of it. Being a dour Scot it never really leaves completely. I mean, we Scots like to be miserable, don’t we? Yet the glimpses of a blue sky in my mind are still there. I won’t give up!

    Blood, Sweat & Tears were awesome. I love that era in music from about 1967 to 1973. So many unbelievable bands. If I had been a teenager in the 60s I would definitely have been a flower child!

    It does change. And sometimes you don’t realise it is changing until you’re almost there. Just remember – you’re not alone in the way you feel.


  8. Not sure what I can add… some days are harder than others.

    I think I’ve shared this before.
    Now I know it’s just one more affirmation, but it’s a Buddhist mediation that I bastardized — seems to work when it’s all getting the better of you.

    Smile. (Even if you don’t mean it)
    Recite: “This is a beautiful moment” ….

    I find it stops the spinning even for a moment.

    Do you have access to professional help if you need it?


  9. Leonard Cohen sings….. (another beautiful Canuck like David Clayton Thomas. 🙂 )

    “Everything has a crack in it….that’s how the light gets in….”

    Music always has a way of honouring our feelings and allowing us to feel them….

    Keep writing Selma….. x


  10. selma, the fact that you are able to confront yr darkness is what makes yr lighter work so good. people who write about the sweetness without confronting the dark stuff tend towards sentimentality and cloying. yr work never does, and now i think i know why.


  11. I know that song very well and like it a lot.

    When you said, “When you’re deep within the swirling vortex of mental agony that has a half-life longer than plutonium you do not believe you will ever make it back up to the sunlight.” THAT IS EXACTLY what its like to be in the ‘bad place’.

    NOT giving up can be the hardest thing, BUT it is essential!


  12. “So when the sun is out but you can’t see it no matter how hard you try – don’t give up. For the wheel is turning as you look. Do what you have to do to get through the day. Hold on. Ride that painted pony and let the spinning wheel fly….”

    Or you could fly away in a beautiful balloon or explore the windmills of your mind! 🙂

    Up, up and away
    My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
    The world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon
    It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon
    We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky
    For we can fly we can fly

    Like a circle in a spiral
    Like a wheel within a wheel
    Never ending or beginning
    On an ever-spinning reel
    Like a snowball down a mountain
    Or a carnival balloon
    Like a carousel that’s turning
    Running rings around the moon
    Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
    Past the minutes on it’s face
    And the world is like an apple
    Whirling silently in space
    Like the circles that you find
    In the windmills of your mind


  13. NAT:
    I do have a therapist. She is great. She always says – Write about it. It does help even though it means the poor blogosphere is my therapist. Sorry, everyone!

    Great meditation, hon. Thanks!

    The power of music is sublime. I do not think I would be here today if it wasn’t for music. It has helped me so much. It does honour our feelings. I love your comments – they are so insightful.

    Oh absolutely. You can’t give up. I like to think I’m in battle facing the enemy and that thousands will die if I just curl into a ball and give up. It does seem to work. Hold on for one more day, I always say!!!

    When I was about 15 my guitar teacher gave me a jazz arrangement of Windmills of Your Mind. It is one of the hardest pieces I’ve ever had to play – my fingers were bleeding afterwards – but when I got it, it just sounded so good. It was one of those moments where you put your fingers to your lips and go MWAH. THat song has special meaning for me. Thank you xxxx


  14. JASON:
    I must apologise for not replying to your comment sooner. Your comment was one of those that sometimes disappears. I don’t know why it happens but it occasionally does. Hope you didn’t think I was ignoring you.

    I really appreciate you making that point because I hope that seeing the dark as I often do does inform my writing and not make it too sentimental. It means a lot to me that you said that!


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