Mountain Musings

Of stirrups, support and service

Special to The CambrianJuly 8, 2013 

We’d probably all like to be a person so strong, so balanced and so flexible we can grab some mane and swing up gracefully onto our horse without the aid of a rock, a bench, a tree stump or someone to give us a boost. The fact is, most of us just can’t quite get up in the saddle without some kind of assistance. That’s where a stirrup comes in.

We put our left foot in the stirrup, one hand on the horse’s neck, one on the saddle horn, hop on our right foot while we pull ourselves up and rise into the saddle. We don’t expect the stirrup to do all the work for us. Nor do we depend on it solely to maintain our stability once we’re mounted. We just need it to be there like a helpful hand.

A lot of situations are like that. Sometimes, all we need is a leg up in life. Now and again a supportive person, or a compassionate community, makes all the difference. And, as good fortune would have it, Cambria and the surrounding Santa Lucia Mountains are full of these people. Here is where folks go far beyond mere concern for others.  Humanitarianism, the promotion of fellow villagers’ welfare, gallops around this small town. When someone in our area has a need, and nearly all of us do on occasion, whether we can’t manage circumstances alone, or we suffer a loss, or have health issues, or any other set back, others weave their fingers together, hang around like a stirrup, and never once consider, “What’s in it for me?” They lend their hands purely out of the goodness of their hearts. What a blessing.

Support from unselfish people who give their time, their energy and their talents is a beautiful thing to behold, one that should be acknowledged and celebrated. People who are of a mind to be of service to others are shining examples of the very best human characteristics there are. The ability and willingness to take action in order to elevate the spirits of those under trial or affliction, to minimize their suffering, to provide a sturdy foundation, or to bear some of the load as the supported person struggles to become upright is to create a powerful, cohesive and influential environment.
Not that supportive people do what they do for appreciation or applause. They don’t. It’s just that they deserve it and, the more we recognize and reveal their efforts, the more likely others are to follow in their footsteps. Those who uplift, inspire, and support as they go, guide us in a direction that unifies and sustains us. 

Like a stirrup on a saddle aids a person in their ascent, we must continue to show the world how it’s done.

Michele Oksen’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email the resident of Cambria’s mountain community in the Santa Lucia range at

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