The Big Open
Montana was big on Saturday. I envision you chuckling to yourself. "Montana's always big," I hear you say. No, it's not really. She generally tends to wrap herself around you, to force you to focus on the beauty that is close at hand, to deal with what life and the land you are on has dealt for you. But on Saturday it was different. Her heart and the hearts of those within her were raw with emotion and it was clearly evident.
It dawned on me as we were driving home from Billings and that sunlight played its magical tricks yet again in concert with the blue, blue sky. I was the least tired of the family and so opted to drive the first leg of our journey home. As we headed east, I could see for many, many miles the small undulations of landscape that make up our world. I could see the Beartooths, Big Horns and Pryors to the south and a crystal clear outline of the Bull Mountains and badlands to the north. You can often seem to see forever on clear days but there is not always clarity. On Saturday, everything worked in sync to make the small peculiarities of the world seem clear for many miles off in to the distance. My heart felt the same.
We were in Billings to take in the last event of our season of wrestling for our eight year old boy. I hadn't known until two years ago what wrestling even consisted of. I finally figured out the scoring system in this, his third year of the sport, and promptly found myself passionately following the efforts of he and his team mates. I love it because it teaches him about winning and losing, because his coaches demand good sportsmanship, because he has to use his brain to be successful. And when Danish Cowboy had to miss his first match of the day on Saturday due to calving duties (a fact of life when you're a rancher), it brought me to tears when his coaches, one of whom also happens to be a classmate and good childhood friend of Danish Cowboy's, took our kid in their arms after a tough match to let him know that all was right with the world and that he had to learn from the lesson and do better the next time around. Chin up, kid. Move on. The lesson was learned. I teared up for the first time that day.
The day progressed with more wrestling matches and more raw emotion that comes inherent with the sport. I was struck, above all, with the kindness that was apparent that day.
We traveled through a town on our way to Billings that was grieving for one of its own young wrestlers, lost just days before. He should have been there. And though most of the thousands who were there that day did not know him, we all had it in the back of our minds that we were missing one of our own. And it made the day a little kinder. I think it gave us all a little more patience with each other and made us all hug our kids an extra time or two that day to let them know just how much they are loved and valued. The emotion was there, every which way you turned. Our hearts were raw from the thoughts we had been experiencing. I want the kindness of that day to go on forever, wherever I am. There's no reason that it shouldn't.
Saturday was a special day for our family. We reconnected with loved ones, we rejoiced in a great sport and the successes of our team, we cherished the connections our kids had made with the special adults in their lives, and we loved each other. I cried a little bit, too, out of happiness and the sheer love of my family and my place in this life.
Above all, we were reminded of all the good the world has to offer and the difference that a word of kindness and support can make in a life. It sounds cliché`to make wrestling a metaphor for life, but it is what it is: we are all fighting battles that you can only see from the outside and can only provide input when you've been there yourself. But no matter your battle, in the end, you will do best for yourself if you shake hands, pat your foe on the back, and walk away with a smile. Lesson learned.