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10/19/2004

Lessons Of The Firefly

For most all of my life I have been aware of those that have gone before. I suppose the coming of Fall has much to do with my own observations on life. The season seems to herald the coming of Winter and with it the end of life that has flourished through Spring and Summer. Our lives are easily compared to the changing of the seasons.  
 
As with most of us my first experiences were shaped by elder family members. My father was the kind of guy who enjoyed the company of older folks. So, from my earliest days I was often surrounded by people telling stories of days gone by. With the passing of each individual I realized that those stories could very well go to the grave. I suppose that is why I felt the need to pass the stories along.  
 
The passing of the generations is the story of life itself, and like all of us in our youth I had no real vision of my own life coming to an end. By the time I had worked my way into middle age the world began to change. Oh, it really didn’t change that much. I was just seeing it in a new perspective. The idea of my own death began to sneak into my vision of the world.  
 
One cannot delve into history as I have for very long before the stark reality of the cycle of life stares you in the face. It is odd to look back at it now, but little things in my younger days had prepared me long before I became fully aware of the influence. Doc Schmidt had an office in the basement of the Hoffman Hospital in Little River, Kansas. I had been born in that same hospital. On a shelf in the waiting hall was an interesting caricature of life that always seemed to intrigue me. It showed the life of a man from baby, through childhood, into teenage years and forward to a young man, Middle Age and finally Old Age ended the cycle. The whole thing was designed in an arc and I would stare at it for the longest time. In some way I knew I would somehow become the old man but it seemed so far away. Now, I’m growing closer to that old man, but don’t get ta worrying about me. I’ve got a lot of years yet.  
 
But, the truth is, that we all will reach the end of our lives much sooner than we ever imagined. Our lives are truly like the flicker of a firefly. When in 1864, White Antelope faced the Colorado troops charging down on the camp at Sand Creek he was heard singing his death song, "Nothing lives long only the earth and the mountains." He had lived his life and whether it be fair or just, he was prepared for that final moment. 
 
Now, I don’t mean ta sound glum or blue. I like ta think I have a healthy attitude toward the idea. Look at White Antelope! He lived and loved and made the best of life and when the end came according to his tradition he sang his way into the next life. His presence may have passed through “The Last Gate” but he will always be with us in his song.  
 
We may not consciously sing our death song at the last, but we have written the tune just the same. In living we have left behind ethereal chords that connect us through time and space. We have added our own music to the melody of humanity. That is the message of the generations. Listen to the wind as it bears the whisper of each song. When we leave this world we will remain in the song of life that each of us has composed and committed to the wind. 
 
We all have our past and we all have our future... And the summer breeze comes and goes like the flickering of a firefly… 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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