This is an Ode to Bud. The wonderful old cowboy I mentioned in a post earlier this week passed away a year and a half ago at the age of 95. I don’t know if I will ever have the honor to meet such a wonderful real cowboy ever again.
So I share with you something I read long ago. Something written to inspire us all, but also in hopes of describing those traits and personal qualities that make someone like Bud so special. It’s a “code of ethics” of sort, modeled after an ideal of the finest of the cowboys, listing what makes a person a good cowboy, and a good person. Inside. Not out. I don’t mean chaps and hat and boots. I don’t mean loud stories of wild western adventures horseback. I don’t even mean years of experience of working with cattle. I mean that part within a person that governs the way they live, that leads them to just be good. What I am referring to here is that part deep within that drives you, presides over the way you live, affects your choices in life, and how you treat others.
This list is nothing new, and I did not write it, but I strive to learn from it and live by it. The first time I read this was on an etched wooden plaque a guest of ours gave us as a gift. It’s still on our wall by the door and I need to read it over regularly because, I, for one, always have a lot more to learn.
Not everyone who works with cattle lives by this, of course, just as many who don’t work with cattle do. In everything, there is something to be learned, an opportunity to be a better person, to make this world just a little bit better. Bud epitomized this code of ethics. He lived it, he taught us all by example, and you know what? He had a wonderful time doing it, and everyone around him could feel it.
The Cowboy Way
1. Live each day with courage.
2. Take pride in your work.
3. Always finish what you start.
4. Do what has to be done.
5. Be tough, but be fair
6. When you must make a promise, keep it.
7. Ride for the brand.
8. Talk less, say more.
9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale.
10. Know where to draw the line.
Above and beyond these ten points, lies one I have trouble finding the words for. It is far more important than each of these points, because it incorporates all ten. It is about how we treat each other. How we treat our brother, our neighbor, the kid bagging your groceries with the bread on the bottom, and the lady in the pick up that just ran into your new truck.
It is the Cowboy’s Golden Rule. I think you all know what that is.
On the front of the card shared at Bud’s memorial services, or rather his “Celebration of Life,” there is a quote that reminds me of this. A quote that I know Bud lived by. A quote I now keep on my fridge with a picture of the old cowboy sitting so proud and right and comfortable on his favorite mare:
“A life is not important except for the impact it has on others.”
Jackie Robinson said that.