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Irons in the fire: Live for the moments

Paul Marchant for Progressive Forage Published on 29 October 2019

I’m not a social media genius, but ever since my kids set up a Facebook account for me nine or 10 years ago, I dabble regularly in the medium. I now have Instagram and Twitter accounts to accompany my profile in Mr. Zuckerberg’s kingdom.

Though I’m aware of the usefulness and convenience of social media, I’m also aware of its pitfalls. Nevertheless, I remain a willing participant.

This fall, I took a video from my phone as we were gathering cows off the mountain. I’d just gathered a little bunch from the top of a ridge and was trailing them off the west-facing hillside. I was probably at about 7,800 feet in elevation, and the view was nothing less than gorgeously panoramic. The yellow leaves were still hanging onto the upper reaches of the quakies, and the tops of the hills were shrouded in a dusting of new crystalline snow. It was late morning and, true to form, the sleepy sun was just making its appearance above the peaks to the east. It was an idyllic cowboy moment. That night, when I finally made it into the house at about quarter after dark, I posted the video on Twitter.

The next day, my video post received dozens of likes, retweets and comments from people I’ve never met. The anti-aggies and haters hadn’t gotten hold of it, so all of the responses were friendly and positive. One particular gentleman, a farmer from the Midwest, mentioned his jealousy and how he wished he had my job. At the moment I read his comment, I was taking a two-minute break from sorting cows in a sloppy corral with a 25-mph wind blowing light flakes of snow around the 23-degree morning. Later that day, I replied to his comment and mentioned, in Twitterspeak, that the job was rarely as glamorous as the video from the previous day might suggest. My little video showed barely one of the 1,440 minutes in my day. He replied back that he’d take even my worst of days any day of the week.

I doubt he truly would if he could get a few more glimpses into my sometimes train wreck of a life. Still, his comments were thought-provoking. First of all, it evoked a little shame in my conscience. I suppose his hankering for my lifestyle really is, in some respects, understandable. What an ungrateful oaf I was for failing to recognize how lucky and blessed I am. I’m reasonably assured in my belief there are a heap more folks in the world who’d be much more anxious to take my place than I’d be willing to take theirs.

I must admit my next and even more poignant thought was quite profound for my brand of deep thinking, which rarely ventures out of the shallow end of the pool. Life really is about the moments. It’s the moments, much more than the days, weeks, months, years or even the events, that make the good life – or more appropriately stated, “make life good.”

We all experience times and feelings of remorse, sorrow, regret, anger, pain and sadness. And while it’s useful to gain experience and wisdom from our scars, it’s the healing moments that should really be our defining moments. It’s not the 10 hours of alternating dust, wind, freezing rain and rank, chute-fighting cows the kids endured during preg-checking day that should be the indelible brand in their minds (though those hours are what probably formed their character). But rather, it’s the half-minute you spent thanking them for their help as you unsaddled the horses under the dim light of the tack shed that night at the end of an endless day they’ll most likely remember. At least that’s what you hope for.

In the end, I believe we all have a say in what the good life is. Life is made of moments, and the moments really are what make the life.  end mark

Paul Marchant is a cowboy and part-time freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Follow him on Twitter or email Paul

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