Monday, January 25, 2010

Cowboy Wisdom

"Say, friend - you got any more of that good sarsaparilla?"

Have you ever found yourself lost in some place that you just dont recognize? It's not the kind of place you really see yourself being in. Maybe its a bar. Maybe its a bowling alley. And maybe its someplace that you find yourself going to all the time. But one day, you just look around, and you have no idea how you got there or where you are.

Recently, I was sitting in a place just like that. I've been in that place for the last few months I guess. I often find myself sitting alone at a bar somewhere. I like the quietude. At heart I am a frontiersman. So now and then I grow restless with even myself and I saddle up and mosey off to some saloon where at least my thoughts can travel far and wide.

I'm a Texas boy. I grew up with ranchland all around me and most of the men I knew wore great big cowboy hats, denim and something of a mustache. Thus, it was easy for me to recognize the grizzled face of a cowboy drifter when just that very man settled himself in next to me on the barstool.

The Cowboy ordered his drink and tipped his hat in my direction, a friendly nod, a greeting where I came from. I swizzled my drink around a bit and kept my eyes on the bartender certain the Cowboy was sizing me up somehow, taking a good look.

"You're not from around here are ya?" he said.

I looked back over my shoulder and tried to appear friendly. "Nope. I'm from Texas."

"Big Sky Country!" he smiled with approval. "That's the best kind of country cause you can see everything. Around here...too many trees. No one ever sees that far and thats what they get used to."

"Yeah. I guess. Where are you from?" I asked him. He just nodded and fetched his sarsaparilla from the barkeep.

"So how come you're sitten here by yourself?" he asked me.

"I dont know. I guess it's something to do." I answered. Truth above all I suppose.

The Cowboy leaned back in his seat, drifted his glass along the bar with his fingers and made a sound with his lips that sounded a bit like drifter disapproval.

"That how you see life? Somethin to do? Lemme guess. Girl broke yer heart, friend stole yer truck, dont recognize yer own face in the mirror?"

I sat there. "Women are no damn good. They only see what they want to see and you cant set your heart by something so unreliable. Good friends are hard to come by. Most of em just envy something they think you have that they dont. And you cant fight time no matter who you are on the inside."

"I see..." the Cowboy said. "Sometimes you eat the bar. And sometimes the bar eats you? Well. Nevermind. I like your style Friend."

"Well thanks Cowboy. I like your style just the same."

I relaxed for a bit and sipped on my beer. I guess I had forgotten why it was that I had come to the bar in the first place. I had a bit of good, familiar, company though.

"Do you know why Cowboys are lonesome Friend?"

"Why dont you tell me Cowboy."

"Cowboys are lonesome because of that Big Sky Country. There's somethin out there they reckon. Maybe its 'the One'. Maybe its somethin better. Maybe its God. I dont know. But its ... out there." He took a deep breath and sighed aloud. "You find yourself sittin here Friend, and lonesome catches up with ya. Cause here, its not 'out there' ... its right here, right now. From one drifter to another. Always keep your eyes on where ya are."

The Cowboy had my attention. "Now what?" I asked him.

The Cowboy stood up from his barstool and dropped some money on the table. "The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket," he grinned.

He took another long look at me sitting there. "If ya lose dont lose the lesson and if you find yourself in a hole...the first thing to do is stop diggin."

"Well. Thanks, I guess, Cowboy."

He tipped his hat again, satisfied with himself somehow. "Keep in mind that timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. Remember Friend that 'Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands.'"

"Oh yeah? What's that from?"

"The Duke's Tombstone. You gonna do better than that?"

"Can you?" I asked him.

"Live your life by the Good Book." he said. "Make your life a book that's not only good readin...but worth readin. There's somethin to do."

The Cowboy sauntered off. I think he muttured something under his breath on his way out the door...like 'see ya round Friend.'

I finished my beer and took a good look around. Some familiar faces. I guess I knew where I was after all. Time to pay the bill. Time to go somewhere better.

..


Thanks to a couple of quotes from 'The Big Lebowski' , a few choice bits of cowboy wisdom and the Duke, John Wayne.

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