Recently my husband and I were chewing the fat about cowboys. "Growing up,” P said, “I was blessed to know several cowboys and although those I knew were part time farmers as well, I liked them ... they knew stuff, weren’t afraid to get dirty or to take on a 600-pound steer in a pen one on one.”
I’m thinking, “Gee, sounds like the law profession … certainly a political campaign.”
Then I tacked on another word and asked, “Well what’s your take on INNER cowboy?
P smiled and said, “I’ve often said that all those who live in Houston awhile are part bubba, part Mexican and part New York. Maybe down deep they’re part cowboy as well. Attendance at the Livestock Show would sure indicate that’s true.”
There was that reference again … the “down deep” part. I’d been digging around for more inner cowboy stuff and still hadn’t come up with anything. “OK, I thought, “I’m no cowgirl but I do know something about ‘down deep.’”
I was born and raised in Texas. To find my inner cowboy, I didn’t have to dig, just tap into my roots.
A beloved friend, J.P. Bryan, said it eloquently during one of his talks on Texas history. “Anyone who knows Texas,” he said, “knows that the hero is the land.”
Perhaps this is at the very heart of the term, inner cowboy. If you've walked in the great outdoors of west Texas, you probably got this long before you arrived.
I’ve seen it at sunset when an outward vista of land against the sky looks like a nude woman at rest. Other times when the two appear seamless — only color varies, melted together like a drop of dye in water. The sight is more than soothing. It’s soulful.
Whether it’s land and sky or sea and sky, the viewing alone beats any movie. Once while staying on Bolivar peninsula, I was awakened during the night by a lightning storm. I went to the living room window and watched these long legs of lightning dance across the Gulf of Mexico for nearly an hour.
I was so struck (no pun intended) by the beauty of this ballet that I remember making noises — like a child’s exclamations during a fireworks display. Before going back to bed, I found a pen and paper to put down the date (August 21, 1995) and wrote, "Dear God … I am so little.”
When Hurricane Ike hit Houston, my inner cowboy had a heyday. I stayed up and watched with fear and fascination. Mother Nature moved things … making a pecan tree sway like a sail, taking transformers and producing a flash of light the color of Wizard of Oz-green.
With no power for three weeks, I found the real kind … rediscovered silence, the satisfaction of sweating and physical labor, bathing in the water hose, being lulled to sleep by noises not made by man. I rediscovered self-reliance and how precious it is. I was ready, but there was a sadness too when the power returned.
When it was off, I’d felt so alive. Like I’d reclaimed something from my core.
So in this world of high tech, in a city with lots of cars, concrete and construction — how does one’s inner cowboy get along? Not easily. For me, it means some days just laying everything down to go digging in the dirt or opening all the windows in the house (like I did today).
Sometimes going slower or sitting still. Maintaining good manners whether I’m the only one at the dinner table or driving my car. Eating AT the dinner table. Eliminating hurry. Doing an honest day’s work. Caring for nature and every animal respectfully. Living each day with humility.
Taken all together maybe this is inner cowboy. Holding on to the simple stuff.
Not like you would saddle a horn, but as softly as you might hold a baby bird in the palm of your hand.