The Buddha reminded us of the suffering elicited by attachment. We become attached to so much in our short years, especially the relative comfort we have been allowed to experience. Pain does not come as a welcome guest, but when it arrives it brings deep opportunity. I appreciate life more as a result of my suffering. It is however better to experience rielief if seasons of suffering. When such relief is not possible something deeper occurs.
I checked my watch as I pushed back from the free computer at the library. “It’s time to get to work,” I thought. Leaving the computer room I turned to head for the front door and there he was. Seated at a bar table near my exit was a Drugstore Cowboy. Wearing a black cowboy hat, vest and red bandanna, he was dressed to the hilt. He was so still that he appeared like a life size model for some local interest display.
As I approached the exit he was guarding, I could not take my eye off him. Nothing moved, was he real or not. I stopped, turned and looked directly at him.
“You a dummy?” I blurted (the word mannequin escaped me) “Or are you real?”
“Ain’t no dummy…REAL!” the answer came. “Least I was at coffee this morning.”
What ensued was a good-natured conversation in which I learned that he was the real thing. He “cowboyed” in the mountains near Steamboat Springs, CO, still owned part of a ranch up there but was now living in Fruita to be near grand children.
I was impressed by his sense of unadorn self-confidence. “Comes from rubbing elbows with life on the range,” I thought. Never know what you are going to confront from day to day, with only ones courage and ingenuity upon which to draw. Separates the men from the boys, I have heard it said. This was definitely a man, gentle, good natured but a man. Impressive.
Reminded me of a chance meeting I had had in my traveling days as I boarded a plane for Billings, MT. Pushed my way to the back of the plane to find my seat in the cheep tail section. Was next to the window. Had to excuse myself as I climbed over the cowboy seated on the isle. We exchanged the usual amenities as I scoured my memory for famous western personalities I had seen on the big screen or TV. Finally, I ventured a guess. Risking appearing to be a dummy, I asked, “You Baxter Black?” (noted cowboy poet and philosopher.)
“Yep,” the other passenger replied.
I wanted to say, “You look just like your pictures.” But, that sounded too dumb. So, “Traveling to Billings?” was all I could manage.
“Yep,” came the reply. “Got a performance tonight there and one tomorrow in Bozeman. Excuse me while I put my brief case overhead.”
I told him that I was heading to Billings to catch a ride to Livingston and then on to a camp in the mountains. “You must travel continually,” I continued.
“Yeah good bit,” Black replied. “I travel lightly, two shirts in my briefcase. Use the one in the brief case tonight at Billings, and the one I got on in Bozeman tomorrow because they will not have seen this one yet.” We laughed.
Traveling light with only two shirts and a head stuffed with enough poems and earthy humor to keep folks on the edge of their seats for hours. He exuded the comfortable confidence of a seasoned performer.
We talked off and on in the short time we traveled to Billings. Inner confidence, I thought, can’t be purchased in some Sears and Roebuck Catalog. It is something that grows through life’s experiences and reflections. It comes from facing life’s back to back performances and freezing nights on the range. It is seen in the gentle eyes of a hardened survivor for his progeny and blossoms in the decision to be together in the waning years. It come from the real stuff of life.
On my way to work today I pulled up behind a Ford Ranger pickup at a busy intersection. Waiting on the light I began scanning the vehicle for clues about its driver. A large sign was posted in the rear window “Tune In To the Rock 106.9″ . I could hear thudding bass sounds throbbing from the cab. “Kid,” I thought.
I continued my investigation. Hanging on the rear window was the telltale gun rack. “A redneck kid who happens to like Rock,” I then concluded.
A little to far to make out what caliber weapons were hanging on the rack, I surmised high-powered with large scopes, maybe even AK47, just as well go big when I was imagining. I drew closer.
As I moved within striking distance of the Ranger bumper the racks contents became clearer, fly rods and spinning gear. “What!” my head screamed. “This can’t be!”
What self-respecting kid with a gun rack and a Ranger would be carrying fishing gear where guns ought to be? I was stunned. My mind couldn’t hold the dissonance.
Then I began to laugh at my propensity to build profiles with little information.
I have become amused with our SUPERLATIVE language in an era when things are anything but ABSOLUTE or AWESOME!
James Tipton is a Colorado Poet who now lives in Ajijic, Mexico, on the shores of Lake Chapala.
The Hot Tomato, Fruita’s fabulous eclectic pizzeria was born from the meeting of like minds on the corner of Mulberry and Aspen below the Fruita Masonic Lodge. Unlikely place until you look around the intersection and discover other persons dreams in living color. Over the Edge Sports a Single Trackers paradise and Camilla’s Kaffe are directly across the street. Aspen Street Coffee the home of the incredible bean, wonderful goodies and ingenious conversation reaches its sidewalk umbrellas from the diagonal. Around these very cafe tables the flicker which was to become Cavalcade was fanned into full flame. Finally across Mulberry west waits a brewery in the corpse of a recent entreprenurial vision soon to be reborn as The Suds Brothers Micro.
All this is to say that Cavalcade is beginning to thrive in a neighborhood where ideas come to reality over night and draw on the spirit of a young community being reborn in a seedbed laid by a crazy poet, William Pabor, in the former millineum who dreamed of Ute Indian country becoming a fertile garden fed by life giving canals from the Colorado River. When you think of it, what better place to begin a new venture.
Cavalcade is a novel idea, people giving birth to the joy of being together and reveling in one another’s individual gifts. Fruita has long been a secret haven for artists and performers who share their gifts elsewhere and return to the cafe tables on Aspen for brew and friendly conversation. Cavalcade now offers a venue for a sharing among friends. This is what originally made Chautauqua, New York what it is today. Is Cavalcade another Chautauqua in the making? Who knows? For sure those who give it life are unconcerned with grandeur only giving expression to what is wholesome, pure and exciting from the human heart. What better place to begin.