Not all cowboys are born in the West, but its wildness whirls as deep in his soul as the great eddies of the Colorado. Dreams as wide as the high prairies. Ideas grand as the Rockies. His common sense, like a crystal stream, cuts through life’s cumbersome valleys and ravines.
Dusty, dirty, weathered and leathered, the cowboy is not perfect. He is, however, a good man.
The cowboy gave me permission. “Go, get outta here while you’re young,” he had said. See what’s out there. Explore it. Test it. Take hold of it. Though he can certainly talk with eloquence, the cowboy doesn’t say everything with words. He doesn’t have to.
I experienced this firsthand as his cowhand, metaphorically speaking, my toddler eyes aimed down the flashlight barrel I held steady for him as he fixed a leak under the kitchen sink, or when he showed me how to change oil in a car, or to set a hook in a fish’s mouth, or to catch with a cowhide glove a stitched leather ball he had thrown at me—a hard fastball as I recall.
I watched the cowboy on countless other occasions, digesting books and magazines of personal interest, PBS documentaries, inquiring of others over a beer on a variety of subjects, educating himself on whatever thought had just given birth to something new for him to try, his many industrious pursuits raining far beyond the landscape of the horses he loved and had left for many years behind.
If there is one lesson I learned in all of this, the cowboy never settles for incompetence—on any matter. If we have the ability to learn, we have the ability to do, and to adapt, and to become. And to re-become.
Ache or no ache the cowboy gets out of bed every day. Fight or no fight, he steps from his homestead into the world, and whatever else may be thrown at him. His love is firm, just like his grip on the reins. Tough, often. Genuine, always. The real deal.
Be it whoa’ing a neighing equine or straddling his rumbling engine of chrome and steel—the cowboy is tuned for the saddle. The cowboy rides.
Kicked, thrown. Nearly crushed more than once. The bottom line—the cowboy rides. Any direction will do, but I can tell you, his sun sets in the Western sky, and the cowboy rides.
Happy 70th, Dad.