Hope is intoxicating.
It has passed the 90 degree mark at every horse show I've competed in this summer. Riding around in tall boots, breeches, long sleeved shirt with a collar appropriately dubbed a "choker", wool-blend coat, and black hunt helmet in 96 degrees is pure foolishness to most people. When I go to take the clothes off, they are sopping wet. I convinced a friend to bring her horse along a few weeks ago, and she looked as though she was melting before she even got on her horse. There were rivulets of sweat sliding down her beet red face, pulling strands of loose hair down with them. It was not a pretty sight.
After that torture, there was a little break before we had to don long pants and chaps, shirts designed for haute cowgirl couture, and felt cowboy hats that didn't let any heat escape to compete in the Western classes. Why?
Hope. That someday we'll win the big prize, whatever that is for us. A ribbon, a trophy, money, recognition, accomplishment, a world championship. It's a different combination of things, but that drive is in anyone who competes. The journey itself may well be the very best part; knowing that reaching for a star brings you that much closer to it.
I don't know what I'll do if I ever make an accomplishment that I cannot surpass. Smile and start again, most likely.