Once upon a time, there was a pinto pony with a saddle and bridle for sale in the Montgomery Ward Catalogue. There was also a 7-year-old girl who wanted that pony. Each time a new catalog arrived, she would hunt for the page with his picture. The accompanying text said the pony would be shipped in a crate. That didn't seem strange to the girl. The Montgomery Ward pony cost $179, and the Sears catalog had one for $299.
Back in 1958, the girl lived in Bedford, Mass., a suburb of Boston, on a 2-acre lot and she was sure there was plenty of room for her pony. When he arrived, she would brush and ride him every day. She'd sleep in his stall. But while waiting for the happy day of his arrival, she made do with an imaginary pony. Every day she'd explore the woods behind her house, pretending she was riding. Her imaginary pony would travel with her on vacations. She would saddle him up and canter him everywhere. No one knew she was on a pony; people just thought she was skipping or running.
The little girl had been taught by her Christian Science Sunday School teacher that to receive something you really wanted, you had to make space for it. Her teacher was probably talking about emotional space and things of the spirit, but the girl took it to mean: If you needed a new pair of shoes, you should clear a place for them in your closet, picture shiny patent-leather shoes and expect them to appear. She was also taught that happiness only happens when you make room for it. Sourness or anger can crowd your thinking, leaving no room for joy. Let in joy, and bad feelings are shoved out. You can't be happy and angry at the same time, can you?
So that's just what she did; she made room for happiness – namely, a pony. She cleared a space in the garage just the right size for a pony crate. Every night she studied the catalog and thought: This is the most beautiful pony ever. On Christmas Eve she'd put an apple and a few lettuce leaves in the garage so that when Santa delivered him, the pony wouldn't get hungry during the night.
When you are a child, nothing happens fast enough, and yet the girl never gave up that spot in her thinking reserved for the pony.
It's now 60 years later and the girl, me, does have a pony. Not a Montgomery Ward pinto or a Sears Shetland, but a pony nevertheless. Plus three full-sized horses.
Not to boast, but apparently, I have mental powers that would impress Miss Barton, my 2nd-grade teacher at Bedford Elementary School in Massachusetts. My hopes and positive thinking have expanded that crate-sized space into a 37-acre farm that also contains 60 head of cattle, 15 hogs, two goats, a donkey, a lamb, some chickens, and a goose.
With space I've provided for them, they have given me a livelihood as well as a purpose – to provide wholesome nourishment in a humane and sustainable way. The creatures fill my life with activity, adventure and meaning. So try this technique. Dream a dream. Give it some space and watch what happens.