“Genius” is a strange word even for me, but as I’ve been trying to write this column, I was looking for inspiration, to the point of perspiration, fueled by determination, thwarted by procrastination.
I realised my situation was causing agitation, so with some hesitation, I received a revelation. I need no restoration, nor excessive salutations, the simple explanation is I needed excavation. I just needed to take the time to let some things go.
As I’m writing these words, I’m glancing back over my day. I’d spent it shipping some cattle, both calves and cull cows. It’s been a few rough winters back here on the Helmer, and my cattle genetics and numbers are not what they once were. That, combined with my theory that I don’t raise cattle based on anyone else’s preference but my own. (Even a politician can start to see the title making sense.) Add to this that I’d given up some rented land farther out, taken on a more pastoral role with some folks and by the time you’re reading this column I will have achieved my goal of “60 is the new 80.” (In other words, I celebrated a big birthday and I’ve decided that I’d rather be a young 80 than an old 60.) As I’d stated some months back, “It might be time to run less cattle and have less battle.” So I’m trying to let go of what I don’t really need — including my unlimited ability to be “stupid.”
If we trot down through the timber collect- ing the stray thoughts on the way, we might find some of these: “A ship doesn’t sink because of the water around it, it sinks because of the water that gets in it” (Unknown). “A man has got to know his limitations” (Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry). Jesus then said to the crew, “Don’t put all your energy into building your cowherd or acquiring more gear. Life consists of more than what you have, it’s about who you are and where you’ll end up” (Combination of Luke 12:15, Mark 8:36 and my words).
It’s in bunching those words together that I find the pasture I’d like to graze in a while. A well- known nugget of cowboy wisdom says, “Hang on to your cow’s tail, she’ll pull you through.” I always add, “That’s true, but you might look like you’ve been under a cow.” Cattle or any possession takes time and energy. Throw in some Dirty Harry logic, and you have to decide what’s best for all. Is the recompense worth the required effort, for both you and the possession? Ride the circle a little wider. It’s not the cost of the cattle that sinks me, it’s what the cattle cost me of me, and what being me entails (with no limit on stupidity), that weighs me down.
Just as it was time to ship some cattle, it’s time to bunch up these words and send them to town. At this time as we celebrate with hearts and chocolates, let us look at where our hearts are, for where our “treasure” is, our hearts are (Matthew 6:21). Consider the cost of what you’re doing, and remember, if there’s no limit to our ability to be “stupid,” how much more unlimited is God’s ability to make things right? We just need to let Him be the one who leads.
Bryn Thiessen is a rancher, poet, cowboy and preacher at Cowboy Trail Church in Cochrane. Bryn and his wife Bonny market grass-fattened beef from their Helmer Creek Ranch southwest of Sundre, Alta.