Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It’s a tricky thing, trusting other people. Movies sometimes say hardened cowboys can make it well enough without it. But those cowboys don’t really exist. Or if they do, they don’t in a way that seems much good after the credits roll. Regular cowboys and the rest of us have to figure it out somehow. If we want to get anywhere in this world then trusting people is part of the deal. It’s the sinews and tendons of moving ourselves around. That guy who broke his leg in Peru, he got himself down the mountain with some very damaged sinews and tendons, although I understand it was painful for him and unpleasant. But what’s a little pain and unpleasantness to a cowboy? Aren’t we all buckaroos in freefall some of the time? Seems so. But of course it’s not the falling we mind. It’s the thud at the bottom and hauling our busted bones back to camp to stare into the fire. The smoke stings the eyes and a little voice inside says maybe just skip it next time. Ride into the sunset and sleep under the stars and eat roasted antelope and only go to town for salt and bags of flour and otherwise don’t bother. It’s a snake’s whisper, that. Calm and smooth and true enough. But it’ll spook a horse and bite from a bedroll sooner than do much good. Travel far enough with that voice and soon we have one ear to it so much of the time that our look at the world goes squinty from straining for it. Then everyone starts to look suspect. Are these the kind of folk who set me on this trail in the first place? Hard to tell, the voice would say. Best not to ride along too quickly. Let’s just wait and see. But waiting and seeing can drag on a long time. And time doesn’t care much about the bruises we get from all that dragging. Pretty soon we aren’t just being cautious, we’ve plain forgotten how to trust in the first place. Sure, forgetting like that would take some effort. My guess is there’d be calluses instead of bruises by the time we really finished the job. And by then we’d likely figure there wasn’t much of life left anyway. Those sinews and tendons would be shrunk and stiff so why bother trying to muster up trust again? Damn snake says maybe the hardness would be a relief. It’s a tricky thing.