Californians get a bad rap. I don’t often take advice from them but when I was wandering downtown Billings yesterday looking for coffee I was given a powerful sign from one of their license plates. Parked at a rundown motel was a Volkswagen with a license plate that very clearly sent the message that this person Lived Hard. It was the exact moment I was looking for and it sent me thinking on the long drive home. The universe gives us just what we need when we need it most.
A sweaty basketball player after a game in mid-summer who comes home and promptly tends to her animals. A kid who takes 200 cuts off a baseball tee in the heat of the afternoon after raking hay all morning. A long run I took tonight in the 95 degree heat. A phone call between Danish Cowboy and I today with deafening silence after he told me about another find on the farm that seemed to shatter our world into a million pieces and a quick exit from the conversation before our voices reflected the brokenness.
On Friday afternoon as I was sitting in my office in town the fire whistle went off twice. A phone call from home a short while later indicated that the fire was just north of our house making its way across our pasture. This was the pasture that we were saving, the one that still had decent grass, the one that gave us hope. ”Dessert,“ if you will, for the cows (not to be confused with “desert” which in this year offers little distinction between the two).
A crew of firefighters turned up quickly and kept the damage minimal. We rely on the graciousness of volunteers to keep our emergency services running and the work they do is always greatly appreciated. They drop everything they are doing on their farms and ranches, employers allow their employees to leave work to respond, they keep their equipment, training and communications in order and our communities would be lost without them. Literally lost.
We will still have to throw some money and time in to repairing the fence and maybe a tune-up for our Old Blue (I use the term “we” here very loosely) but a crisis was largely averted thanks to these special human beings.
Live hard. Give freely. You are appreciated.
I pit a lot of miles on in the last week and it left me thinking about the life that Danish Cowboy leads as a self-employed agriculturalist. He doesn’t have staff meetings or committees or job descriptions. There are no performance reviews other than the ones his neighbors give as they drive past our fields. There is no written mission statement.
But those phone calls, text messages and sometimes silly SnapChats that he shares with his neighbors and friends? That’s where the good stuff is. That’s where the Strategic Planning happens and the support network comes in. You might think you’re just talking to a neighbor but what you’re really doing is encouraging them, reminding them that we’re all working towards a common goal under common conditions and that no one is dealing with this alone.
Live Hard. And don’t forget to love hard and work hard, too.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
But of power,
And of love,
And of a sound mind.
-2 Timothy 1:7-