Sunday, August 5, 2012

Man of the river

My path has often diverged in a wooded place and both the roads have not been well traveled.  For this I am often most thankful.  In exploring those places that have never been trod I find great strength and often myself.  Once along a small creek that cut the deep mountain side, I explored the rocks and small waterfalls that sang in simplicity. As I knelt down I found in one the face of the man of the river.  His eyes and nose gave way to an awkward yet simple smile. 
As I gazed and he looked back we spoke of simple things, like life’s sweet pleasure and the power of spring currents complemented by falls graceful flow.  Of dreams we had to become something great and how time would mold us into something more than stone. We spoke of love and laughter, of rain and sun filled days. How each of these would bring new things and in its own and separate way, would shape us into what God wanted us to be.
Then he whispered that up the stream was another who in his own unique way would once again speak to me so I went on my way.  As I turned back to say goodbye his face was seen no more, changed by rolling waters flow. So on I went to see his friend who taught me even more.
So life rolls by and up we climb and somewhere along the way we find on paths not traveled much some great wisdom and peace of mind.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Panhandling cowboy?

As the morning sun settled to the west my fuel tank told me it was time to roll off the interstate into the Truck stop in Santa Rosa New Mexico.  As I pulled through the entrance I notice a man sitting with a cardboard sign that read, “need gas”.  What caught my eye was how he was dressed.  Atop his head was a sweat stained cowboy hat, his wrangles jeans had seen some work, and his boots had walked a mile or two.  As I filled my truck I looked at this man and something inside me was moved with compassion.  As I pulled away I did something I have never done, I stopped and rolled down my window. 

The middle-aged man rose from his seat and approached my open window.  I told him I would turn around and if he would pull his car up to a pump I would be happy to fill it up for him.  He proceeded to explain to me his trucks engine had actually broke down on his way to a ranching job in Gallup and he was now trying to come up with the money to fix it and no one had responded to his cardboard asking for help with the broke engine so he switched to needing gas.  He then told me he was good with horses and cattle and had worked as a ranch hand most his adult life.  If I would hire him he would be happy to clean stalls or anything else if I could pay him for his labor.  When I told him I was from Utah and heading to Oklahoma he quietly thanked me for stopping and said he did not want to take any money he couldn’t earn. 

As the wheels of my pickup once again found the rhythm on the highway that good warm fuzzy feeling came over me.  I had felt moved upon to help someone in need and responded to that call.  I felt a bit closer to heaven for my actions.  Just as the warm fuzzy feeling was to take me to new heights of spiritual awareness my rational brain kicked in.  Stop patting yourself on the back the only reason he did not rip you off for a free five bucks of beer is cause you asked the right questions and did not expose yourself to the foolishness of giving to a panhandler.  He offered to work because he had seen your license plate knowing you would not take him up on the offer.  No the compassionate side argued back you followed your heart and was lead to someone in need and you responded to his desperation in these hard times.

The great part about 20 hour drives is that these sorts of arguments with ones self can go on for hours.  This great battle lasted for a while till I struck up a great debate with the version of Harry Reid that lives in my mind.  Long drives by yourself can do that to a person.  In the end I decided that my heart was right I did the right thing, he was a good man in need, and I needed to do more giving when the opportunity arose. The warm fuzzy feeling returned and bliss was the rest of my trip.

On the way home ten days latter I rolled into the same gas station and with the same hat and same sign was the same cowboy.  Apparently it’s hard to find a cheap mechanic in Santa Rosa or steady ranch work.  This time when I looked at him he was the one looking away pretending I did not exist.  My feel good side sure hates it when Mr. Rational gets on his high horse to parade his infinite power in logical reason. This time though my feel good side pulled out his boxing gloves and the two sides worked something out in my head. 

When we are moved upon to help and ask the right questions and offer the help in a reasonable manner something good can happen.  We can drive away knowing we did what the Lord asks of us and not having to worry if we gave to a scam artist.  When we have compassion in our heart we can give so long as our reasoning directs the manner in which we give.  When this happens we get the best of both worlds, the warm fuzzy that comes with acts of charity and the comfort that we are not being taken advantage of.  Guess it just takes a beggar in a cowboy hat sometimes to help us start.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bucking horses named Nancy Puzzle.

Out in the pasture we have a very pretty sorrel mare.  She is always one of the first to greet you, will follow you around, and is very kind.  Her sire is a great horse, with a fantastic show and production record, and her mother is one of the best in the industry.  She is a great mover, excellent athlete, and will buck your butt off as soon as you get a little out of balance.  She flunked out of the training program after eight months of trying to fix her desire to pile you in the dirt when she thought you were not paying attention.  In cowboy terms she is a coyote, in layman terms a hypocrite. So why do I have her?

I ask myself this a lot. Take for example Nancy Pelosi, why do we have her?  She rants about the republican “war on women” and yet she pays her female staffers 26.7% less than her male staffers.  She wants to pass legislation so we can find out what is in it. But will not sign up for the services the legislation provides, after we read it.  Let’s just be honest the lady is a nut and if natural selection had a stronger role she would have been gone a long time ago.  I would love to take her on a pack trip into the middle of nowhere for the entertainment value alone.  Could you see her trying to catch a fish for dinner? Now that’s funny!

Then there are the subways inside a Wal-Mart.  Am I the only one that finds a healthy fast food chain inside the redneck store of the world a bit ironic?  Put dunkin' donuts in that place. This kind of stuff goes right along with New York's attempted ban on large soda drinks.  The ban proposed by politicians that raise money by having cocktail parties.  For fun go do the sugar and calorie math on that one and grab a diet Bacardi on ice while you’re at it.  For my readers short on time a fruity cocktail has more calories than two big macs or a 64-ounce soda. Drink that with with your cigarette and light beer at the next New York Democratic fundraiser.

I would hate to leave out folks like myself who run to the tea party and scream lower my taxes.  Then rush home to complain about the amount of my refund from last year.  I am not sure on the numbers but I would guess a bunch of us on the right don’t pay taxes in the end, or very little just like the Hollywood star who has their opperations set up in Nevada.  Did I mention how fantastic the latest George Clooney movie is? I had to give it a five star on my review.  Why do I watch his stuff?

In the end we all end up providing something good and something not as good.  I am sure there is a little bit of coyote in us all.  So why do we keep it around?  The same reason I keep our little mare puzzle, I hope to raise something good out of her, something better than what she is.  Pelosi has provided many great laughs while debating on the house floor.  I fill better about making fun of fat people at Wal-Mart when I am eating at sub-way.  I really enjoy a good movie and Maximus from Gladiator is still my hero. Even though he is portrayed by someone with a vastly different worldview than mine (I realize that Maximus is played by Russell Crow but Clooney has never given me a role to use as a hero and you get the point I hope).  I believe for the most part we are trying to make the world better and doing our best to pay the women in our lives as much as the men.  Sometimes is just hard to not buck when you see the opportunity to put someone in the dirt, just ask Puzzle.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hope and Foals

This time of year one of my favorite things to do in the evening is look out the window of our home and watch the baby horses play in the field.  As they run and interact with the world around them its exciting to see their personality start to develop.  This year we have one little filly that is a social butterfly, she seems to spend more time over visiting her friends than with her mom.  At times her mother is in the back pasture while she is in the front.  She is worry free and very brave.  Her best friend is a mommy’s girl, always happy to play but never to far from mom.  One of our newest is a very cute palomino colt.  Younger than his pasture buddies he is timid around the other foals, but loves to pick on mom.  He is often climbing on her, kicking at her, and doing anything else to bug her.  Full of energy and life when in his comfort zone but shy in a crowd, he is brave but bashful.

I love the hope and optimism each one of them brings to my life.  They are full of potential.  They are different colors and some show great natural athletic ability others kindness and some are a bit wild.  They all however have the world before them and I am sure one of them will be a futurity champion.  This is why I breed horses to see them have a chance to succeed, hoping they can reach their full potential.

I have one very special baby outside my window she has it all looks, talent, and a very solid mind.  Her sire is my favorite horse in the world and her mother is the only horse that I love more than my favorite horse in the world.  She is my special foal, a gift to me from above.  Years of faith, hope, and financial investment are resting in her.  I know that she is special.  I also know that her full sister is at summer pasture and I will start riding her this fall and that inside her mom grows another, we are hoping for a boy this time.  They are my hope and optimism. 

Eternal optimism is the gift that runs around in my pasture every spring.  A gift too few people are seeing today.  The talking heads can argue and fight their wars on women and the bucket list of hot topics.  They can try to paint a picture of doom and gloom that only their party can fix.  The wise horseman however knows that the real solution is outside the window in a little package with long wobbly legs that run and play.  Optimism is the horse breeders eternal gift every spring and its what we need to find more of this fall.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Black Stallions and Opinions

It was a very typical Sunday after a fantastic finals night.  The stall curtains were coming down and the excitement of the show was drawing to a close.  The night before was great as the best of the preliminary put on a show and now as the morning sun shed its light the dust was settled.  With the trailer, packed I headed over to the stalls of another trainer to pick up a horse I was hauling home for a friend.  After exchanging pleasantries I offered my condolences to the other trainer, who like myself, had some bad luck in the preliminary and missed the finals.  His sharp response caught me a bit off guard “he is not a very nice horse!”  As I took my friends horse to my trailer I looked into the stall of the beautiful black stallion the other trainer had referenced.  As I walked away I could not help but reflect on the horses record; he had won a major regional futurity, been an open futurity finalist, made the NRBC open finals the year before, and consistently marked very high scores, his lifetime earning had to be near 80,000 to a 100,000.  Sounds like a crappy horse.

For the past month this has been on my mind, what makes something good or great? For me the Black stallion is a fantastic horse; he has ability, looks, and a great show record.  Everything from the outside tells me he is not a good horse, he is a very good horse.  Yet to the one who rides him he is just the opposite, he is in deed not a good horse.  So what is something that consistently does its job and brings home a good paycheck if not good.  Could it be the Obama truth factor?

By the Obama truth factor I mean the Presidents idea that truth is relative to the perception of the individual.  He does not lie because from his perspective it’s true.  From my perspective the guy still smokes crack and is full of deceit and lies.  But given the perspective of the fore mentioned horse and my opinion of him and the opinion of the other trainer maybe the president is on to something, in his world that is.  This then leads to the question are statistics truth and goodness an opinion derived from the interpretation of the statistics?

Of course all this deep philosophical thinking over the response to a condolence comment really can be painful at times.  Then again trying to understand the split tongue of a politician can be as well.  So at the end of the thinking, I have decided that the black stallion is a good horse and that’s my opinion.  Our white president with an African heritage is a brilliant man who has a hard time accepting that the world is black and white in terms of what is in the end true.  Guess in the end you never know what can come from giving a ride home to a horse your friend purchased, hope he is a good one. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The satisfied perfectionist

With the horses and tack loaded all that was left was the 81-mile drive home.  Sitting in the back the kids settled into the Lion King with their headphones, while my i-pad played the soothing songs for escape from a long, three day, horse show.  In the seat next to me were two large bronze trophies, the prize from a winning run in the Open Derby.  They brought some solace to my unhappy mood a strange yet familiar discontent with a very successful weekend.  I had made a very nice run, scored lower than I had expected but the placement was good.  The never- ending desire for perfection left me feeling empty in a moment I have worked to achieve for years.  As my headlights broke the darkness of a familiar road it was a strange place to be.

The passing miles brought one word to mind over and over, satisfied.  Why could I not feel satisfied I had after all accomplished what I had set out to do three days before I had won the Derby.  I had marked a respectable score under a very conservative judge.  With only one very borderline deduction for a debatable over spin I had put together a clean run with a high degree of dificulty. Yet looking at the trophies and the thousands of dollars that came with them I had a hollow heart.

The obvious question is why would I fill unsatisfied if I had accomplished what I had set out to do?  The answer is in the second horse I showed that night.  Although she is not as good as Moonshine, the horse I won on, she is a very nice horse and I expected to do well with her and hoped for a first and second placing.  When I was walking out of the arena on her I had expected to hear a score that would bring that goal very close to a reality, instead I heard a mark five points lower that what I expected and everyone else in the arena, for that matter.  The result once again left me lacking in perfection.  So I had won but not been perfect hence unsatisfied.

So the never-ending war rages on inside the desire to be perfect and yet find some sense of satisfaction.  Gratefully in the back a little boy took a moment from his movie and made a simple statement, “Dad can I tell you something?” I responded “yes.”  To which he replied, “I love you!” All the anger and disappointment disappeared at that moment.  As one of my favorite artist Jewel reminds us in her song satisfied “horses are built to run. The sun was meant to shine above.  Flowers are made to bloom and then there’s us, we were born to love, we were born to love.”  The only source of true satisfaction comes through expression of our love through word, deed, and expression to those who mean the most to us.  If we fail to lay it all on the line and give of ourselves nothing will bring us satisfaction.  Without those we love all we have is trophies to dust and a few thousand bucks. Perhaps the perfectionist in me will one day take first and second in a big show, so I can drive home unhappy about not taking first second and third. I will however hold on for all I am worth to an amazing wife, kids, and great horses like Moonshine.  Those are the things I love and the only things that satisfy.