I'm not the sort who likes to share my feelings in person; it’s easier for me in my writing. In fact, I once almost quit a men’s group because I wasn’t comfortable sharing at the level they expected. Truth be told, 98% of all my conversation is probably devoted to cattle, horses, sports, politics, current events or the weather – things that don’t necessitate a whole lot of introspection.
I admit, however, that as I get older, I notice a change in my perspective. Some of my edgier friends might refer to it as a feminization of my thought process, though the women in my life would probably call it growing wiser. They’re probably both right.
In actuality, I think males feel and consider a lot of things that they never express. I think most men are transformed by four main things – faith in God, the love of a good woman they probably don’t deserve, love for their children, and career. For those of us involved in the cattle industry, I’d add a fifth – a love for the land and our animals.
These factors entering your life typically bring a man a whole new level of sobering and exciting responsibility. Maybe that’s why we tend to be hesitant to share our thoughts – because they are the most important things in our lives. I know, for instance, that I’m not very good at expressing or sharing my feelings with my wife. Thus, sharing such thoughts with someone less intimate with me is akin to borderline lunacy in my book.
The kids are a different matter; after all, we all like to brag on our kids. I can say I never really understood the love of a father until I became one. They say it’s an emotion that’s even stronger for mothers. I believe that; a mom’s capacity for giving and sacrifice is unparalleled.
I think the best and worst parts of being a dad is watching your kids grow up and transform before your eyes. It happens too fast, and you want to do it right and not miss any opportunities. But, there are times when you just wish you could stop the whole process, but I wouldn’t trade the wonder of watching their growth for anything.
From a ranching standpoint, I get a similar – yet less intense – feeling every time I walk through the bullpens. We’ve long been committed to not feeding bulls in the typical manner, but I admit getting pangs of regret knowing what these same bulls would look like 200 lbs. heavier. I wonder if I’m not doing them a disservice by not letting them reach their full potential. Then again, I watch them mature and change almost daily. Just like with the kids, you know the potential; you just hope others do as well.
In the end, it’s simply about transformation. At the end of a day, I want to be able to say that I did right by those things that truly matter, and that my priorities are aligned. Of course, everyone’s life has a “harvest time,” a time where a shift in priorities is required by the conditions on the ground.
I have often wondered if others share thoughts similar to mine. Do we all face the same challenges and struggles, and some folks just merely deal with them better? Or, are we all so unique that everyone’s experience is vastly different? Either way we probably would learn a lot from another’s perspective.
With that said, I had better get back to work. And, if we meet down the way, I’d like to apologize in advance for us probably just talking about cows, horses, politics or the weather.