Taming the Horse Within: How to Master Desire and Achieve Contentment

French scribe Maupassant toiled as a bureaucrat in a governmental bureau. Over the span of a decade, he concurrently labored and penned his thoughts, bearing witness to a myriad of individuals and occurrences. Upon retirement, he crafted a succinct yet profound narrative, “Horse Riding,” inspired by his own encounters.

The central figure, Hector, hails from humble origins, yet he harbors an insatiable appetite for pleasure and ostentation. He procures equines and carriages to escort his kin on excursions. Eager to distinguish himself, he cavalierly guides a horse through bustling thoroughfares. Alas, the horse, startled, veers out of control, colliding with an elderly woman. Ultimately, Hector faces financial ruin, paying the price for his equestrian folly.

Now, a century hence, the untamed steed of desire still roams the hearts of myriad commonfolk. The vivid allure of myriad temptations and accessible delights resembles a captivating wild stallion. Unchecked, it inexorably leads to downfall.

Hector, born into nobility, witnesses his family’s fortunes wane from his infancy. Reared in a manor, he masters the art of horsemanship under tutelage. As adulthood dawns, familial inheritance dwindles, prompting a relocation to modest lodgings. Yet, securing a post at the Admiralty, marriage, and progeny offer solace amid frugality. Transitioning from opulence to austerity, he remains haunted by past grandeur and material desires. Though his income scarcely sustains his household, he perseveres in maintaining a refined lifestyle.

On one occasion, windfall funds prompt Hector to orchestrate a family outing, renting a carriage and horse to flaunt erstwhile aristocratic status. Despite his prolonged absence from horseback riding, his lack of proficiency nearly precipitates several mishaps. Driven by a desire to impress, he ventures into the city’s busiest streets. Alas, the horse’s sudden rampage incites panic among passersby. Amidst the chaos, an elderly woman obstructs their path. Helpless to halt the steed, Hector implores, “Clear the way!” The woman falls unconscious as Hector is apprehended by bystanders. His avarice and vanity culminate in a tragic reckoning.

As human beings, we each harbor an untamable “wild horse” within, be it the lust for comfort or extravagant aspirations for fame and wealth. Failure to curb such impulses renders us slaves to desire.

Renowned Peking Opera luminary Wang Peiyu achieves acclaim in her youth, only to succumb to material indulgence. With ample earnings, she squanders vast sums on lavish feasts and luxury shopping sprees, gaining excess weight and compromising her artistry. Chastened by her mentor’s admonition, she renounces carnal fare, adopts modest attire, and rededicates herself to her craft, earning acclaim as the “contemporary Meng Xiaodong.”

Love, wealth, happiness, health—our desires are insatiable, yet contentment remains elusive. Yielding to greed invites the unchecked advance of the inner wild horse.

The elderly woman, identified as Mrs. Simon, though injured by Hector’s folly, attempts to exploit the situation, feigning incapacitation to extort him. Initially succumbing to her ruse, Hector ultimately discerns her deception, but not before shouldering exorbitant medical expenses. Mrs. Simon’s greed burgeons during her convalescence, prolonging her stay by fabricating ongoing ailments. Her relentless pursuit of material gain precipitates her physical decline, ultimately rendering her bedridden.

Confronted by the specter of unbridled desire, yielding at each turn only amplifies its power.

Human frailty lies in an inability to quell greed and resist temptation, relinquishing control to desire. Excessive want leads to profound exhaustion, while failure to embrace contentment ensures perpetual dissatisfaction. Those who succumb to transient pleasures imperil their very existence.

Hector’s pursuit of fleeting opulence exacts a heavy toll, disrupting his tranquil existence for ephemeral indulgence.

In his youth, Maupassant, akin to the characters in “Equestrian,” succumbs to the allure of desire. Born into a fading aristocracy, he labors in a meager civil service role, yet yearns for more. Squandering his savings on a yacht and revelry, he forsakes his well-being for fleeting pleasures. Only with the onset of illness does he recognize the peril of unchecked desire, prompting a literary endeavor to caution himself and others ensnared by wanton longing.

It is said that desire is inherent to human nature, yet we must endeavor to resist its corrosive influence. Remember, we are not slaves to the wild horse of desire, but its master. When we firmly grasp its reins and chart our course, we navigate life’s vast expanse with liberty.

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