Billy Coffey is a guest blogger over at http://www.bustlesandspurs.com/ today and his posting spoke right to me. I've spent my whole life working with and around cowboys and they have as a rule raised concealing expression of emotion to an art form. Yet most I have known do feel and feel deeply and when they do break past the barrier to express emotion it is always honest and strong even if understated.
This is true for a lot of men I have known in all sorts of avocations who struggle to maintain the facade of the strong, reliable man they have been taught to be.
My post there (that was just before his) spoke about getting a chance to experience what it might have been like to live in those days. Those were good times. I got a question from it asking if that was that was the extent of my cowboy background or if I had ever worked as one. In essence that asked if I was all hat and no cattle.
I’ve never owned or lived on a ranch but I worked as a day hand from the time I was in high school up until I moved to the big city and couldn’t do it any more. Even after that I’d get out and do it when I could. I did a book of cowboy poetry many years back and I spoke to the question of my cowboy credentials this way:
Am I a cowboy? Well, I don’t live on a farm or a ranch, but I’ve worked on ‘em and lived in West Texas most of my life. I’ve plowed and fixed fence and worked cows. I’ve eat dirt, been rained on and kept going in 100 degree heat without a breath of wind to cool my brow. I managed a rodeo and I’ve watched cowboys play. Been up on a bull and know how long 8 seconds can really be.
Am I a cowboy? Being a cowboy is more than wearing boots and a hat. It’s even more than doing the job. It’s something down in you that makes you go on after others have quit because it’s what you’re out there for. It’s working hard and playing hard and holding up your end. It’s doing what’s right, not because of laws or because you’re told to, but just because it’s by gosh what’s right!
Am I a cowboy? That’s not for me to say. But I’d like to think so.