I've got a couple cowboy friends that I've met over the years while attending the Western Writers of America conferences. Lately I've noticed that when I talk to them, they don't seem a bit concerned over the time or the date. Yesterday I called a man I've been working with who has a great memoir about his life as a cowboy. He lives on a ranch near Dallas, I asked him about the news that said Dallas had broken a record with 26 straight days of temperatures over 100 degrees. In that wonderful Texas drawl, Charlie said, "It been that long? Don't seem like more than a day or two."
Later in the conversation I asked Charlie about a gig he has coming up. He's also a cowboy poet and often recites his poetry for libraries. He didn't "recollect" the date. Then he said, "Think it's in the afternoon sometime. I told 'em to do it later so I could get all the chores done and my nap in before I drove to town."
Charlie wasn't concerned at all about any of it. And after talking with him, I wasn't either. What a peaceful feeling. Then about five minutes after I talked to my friend in Texas, I talked to a gal from Illinois and for the next half hour she worried about dates and times and sales and signings and everything under the sun. When I hung up from that phone call I know my heart rate was double and I could feel my blood pressure rise. I wanted to call Charlie back, but he'd already told me he was due for his nap.
Is cowboy time slower do you think? Could it be that they've found a secret? I know that everytime I talk to Charlie he'll mention that he doesn't understand how anyone could live in a subdivision. He said that land is a natural noise buffer. When I worried about the heat in Texas, he said that 100 degrees in his ranch is a lot cooler than 100 degrees in the city. I know he was kidding, but the fact that he wasn't complaining like I was and all my friends here in St. Louis were, was refreshing. When he told me he was "due for his a nap," I teased him that it was only noon. He said, "Well, I just won't look at the durn clock and that way my body won't know what time it is."
Recently, when frustrated over not being able to get everything done one day, I remembered something my grandpa told me years ago. He always piddled with things around his yard, in his shed, under the hood of his car, on his boat and sometimes on the kitchen table. Whenever he plopped his toolbox down, you knew he'd be working on some project for hours. "Just do what ya feel like doin', when you feel like doin' it, and you'll get a lot more done that way," he told me. Grandpa wasn't a cowboy, although he did seem to live that carefree life, but he was wise and I think he didn't let the clock or the weather stand in his way no more than Charlie does.