It is a common trick used in many Westerns. Two outlaws are being chased by a posse. The bad guys are desperate to throw them off their trail. So, one of the two outlaws dismounts from his horse and jumps onto the horse of his partner in crime.
They swat the riderless horse on the rump and it gallops off down the trail that leads south. The two outlaws, riding on the same horse, ride north.
The posse, coming upon the tracks leading north and south, have to make a decision. In most Westerns, the posse rides south, following the riderless horse for miles before realizing they have been duped. They discover (too late) that the riderless horse's hoof prints are shallow. The hoof prints of the horse with the riders are deeper.
In real life, we follow the riderless horse when we chase after things that have no eternal value; when we work late, night after night, at the expense of our families; when we think more highly of the car that we drive than the neighbor next door; when we judge success by the zeroes in our bank accounts, the neighborhood we live in, or the number and expense of material things we own.
And later in life, we realize we have been duped, or that we have been selfish or stupid and that we didn't even know it at the time.
I was 43 years old when my father died. It wasn't until then that I clearly and thoroughly realized that life essentially boils down to love; those you love and those that love you. The only people who will remember you are those who love you and who carry your love in their hearts.
After my father's death, the world did not make sense to me; it had been turned upside down. Because of the insight about love, I turned to the spiritual for more answers and explored the world's religions for common truths.
Love and charity; mercy and forgiveness; sacrifice, selflessness and service are eternal threads that run through all of the major religions. These, according to their teachings, are what make life worth living. These are the things that will change you and will change the world for the better.
Christ once asked, "For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). This is a question we all need to consider before we set out to follow the shallow path of the riderless horse.