I had a great visit over the telephone this afternoon with a friend that I don’t see often because we don’t live in the same town and lead very different lives. For example, she’s a boat person in the summer and lives in Charleston which is surrounded by water and I’d just as soon not take a boat trip if I don’t have to and I live in Columbia which is surrounded by dry land. But while we do lead separate lives, we have a bond that, luckily, doesn’t require high maintenance and enables us to pick up our conversations as if we saw each other all the time. It’s enough for us.
Linda and I have been together through more than I have time to write about in this life and most of our conversations involve people we both know or places we’ve been or things we’ve done and, more recently, our pills and doctor visits. We share another common thread with both of our mothers having a long-term illness and our being the primary caretakers. When my mother died in 2012, Linda came to Texas and was there for me.
Occasionally we veer off the track and tend to “wax poetic” as my daddy used to say whenever he took off on one of his philosophical tangents about the meaning of life. Today was one of the waxing poetic days as we talked about our Mortality – yes, that’s Mortality which would be a much longer conversation than about our Morality, both real and perceived.
Afterwards I thought of a song Tom T. Hall wrote in 1975 about the cowboy and the poet. Tom T. is a country music legend known as “The Storyteller” because his songs often tell stories. Actually he writes his songs with his wife of forty-five years, Miss Dixie, and she probably inspires the stories he tells. This particular song, Faster Horses, is about a young poet who comes to visit an old-time cowboy to ask him about the mysteries of life.
The old-time cowboy spits between his boots and waxes less than poetic, “Faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, more money.”
Apparently the young poet is less than impressed and tells the cowboy he doesn’t care for either horses or younger women or whisky or money and the old man calls him a liar… and goes on to say, “It don’t do men no good to pray for peace and rain. Peace and rain is just a way to say prosperity, and buffalo chips is all it means to me.”
Baffling, to be sure, to be talking about buffalo chips when you are a Truth-Seeker, but there you have it. The song ends with the young poet giving up on poetry and going back to “reality.” It is a happy or unhappy ending – depending on your perspective.
My perspective is I’ve always been an old-time cowboy at heart and I’ve come to the conclusion that I haven’t solved many of life’s mysteries in the past sixty-eight years which has put a damper on my enthusiasm for the probability of my solving any in the next fifteen years. Buffalo chips aside, Tom T. and Miss Dixie may just be on to something with their belief in faster horses, younger women, older whiskey and more money.
Today I can cheerfully say they’re as good an answer as any other ones I’ve heard, and I think Linda might agree with me.