Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Real Cowboy Way

When I was a boy, I used to love to read Louis L'Amour westerns.  It was a simpler time for me when I had no doubt who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.  The cowboys that were the main characters in each of those novels were always tough, honest, and chivalrous.  In some small silly way, I think those books helped form my own sense of honor, and I am grateful for that.  Perhaps I am naive to be the age I am now and still often thinking in those terms, but I can tell you one thing for sure: the world would be a better place if more people thought and acted like my old cowboy heroes.

One of my favorite of those Louis L'Amour books was Hondo.  Now Hondo was a tough but fair man that came across a woman and her son that were unknowingly abandoned by the ne'er do well husband/father on their homestead right in the middle of Apache territory.  Of course, Hondo ends up teaching the boy what it really means to be a man and also inevitably falling in love with the woman. A few years later, I discovered that they had made a movie of the book staring John Wayne.  That was it for me!  It seems my heroes have always been cowboys ever since.

Cowboys these days are definitely a dying breed and there are darn few of them around anymore.  That is surely a damned shame, because I think the country would be far better off if we had more of them around. The several real cowboys I have had the great pleasure of knowing and counting as my friends are all men that love God, love their families, and love America, and in that order.  Each of them will look you in the eye and their handshake and word is their bond.  They work hard, love their women faithfully, and they love and teach their children to grow up strong, independent, and true.

All of that said, I think we can still learn a lot from the simple philosophies lived and spoken by the cowboy. Some of my favorite sayings and pieces of wisdom from this dying breed follows below.  Enjoy!

Find her, protect her, spoil her, dance with her and never stop loving her or someone else will.

The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you shave his face in the mirror every morning.

Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.

Keep skunks, lawyers, and politicians at a distance.

Life is simpler when you plough around the stump.

Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.

Meanness don't happen overnight.

Don't sell your mule to buy a plough.

It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.

You can't unsay a cruel thing.

Every path has some puddles.

When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

Most of the stuff people worry about never happens.

Don't squat with your spurs on.

Don't judge people by their relatives.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Don't interfere with something that ain't botherin' you none.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

The easiest way to eat crow is while it's still warm. The colder it gets, the harder it is to swallow.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.

If it don't seem like it's worth the effort, it probably ain't.

It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.

If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.

Don't worry about bitin' off more'n you can chew; your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger'n you think.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there with ya.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.

You can't tell how good a man or a watermelon is 'till they get thumped.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Some days ya just gotta put on your boots and dance anyway.

Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.

The only substitute for good manners is fast reflexes.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.

A young cowboy once asked his father, “Father, how will I ever find the right woman?”  His father replied, “Forget finding the right woman; focus on being the right man.”

What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.  ~ Will Rogers

Never take to sawin’ on the branch that’s supportin’ you, unless you’re bein’ hung from it.

Just because you’re following a well-marked trail don’t mean whoever made it knew where they were going.

Hard work spotlights the character of people:  some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.

Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.

Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid.

Every cowgirl knows if you’re wantin’ to find yourself a good stallion, don’t go looking in the donkey corral.

You can’t fix stupid.

Life will change without our permission.  It’s our attitude that will determine the ride.

If you want to know what a man’s character is like, take a good look at how he treats those which are not his equals.

Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.


John Myste said...

"Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance." This appeals to my agnostic nature.

"If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'." This appeals to my debating strategy.

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment." I always tell people, if it is complex enough, you have to program it wrong before you can program it right. They ask things like "what if you were a surgeon?" I wearily explain that surgeons generally don't program at all.

"Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in." To paraphrase Ole Whathisname Shaw, if you can't keep your skeleton in the closet, you may as well dance with it.

"You can't unsay a cruel thing." My brother was giving me advice when I got married, and the number one thing he said was to think before I speak, because it takes an instance to say something, and more than a lifetime to take it back.

Some of these were good, but I could not endure intentionally exposing myself to cowboys to encounter them, so thank you, sir.

T. Paine said...

John I have truly missed your wit and sense of humor during my writing hiatus!

I do like your version of “you can’t unsay a cruel thing”. Your brother gave you good advice.

All of that said, you really should make it a point to hang out on special occasions with a cowboy or two. I think you’d find you have a lot more in common then what you think you might. That is unless they are Dallas Cowboys. They are pretty worthless, but after watching the last NFL season they are also pretty harmless. Cheers to you, my friend!