What it Means to be a Cowboy
Let me tell you how I pack a bag: last minute, light on clothes, heavy on books. The other day, for example, I filled my little brown bag with more books (seven) than short and shirts (six). Then I added a pair of running shoes.
The book-count reaches eight if you include the audio one I had in my ears somewhere over the Atlantic, plane headed to Athens, book-heavy bag overhead, lights in the cabin out, everyone asleep. And as has always happened, I found myself getting a little misty when the Little Prince says goodbye to the lovely fox. I’m not sure if this is true, and I don’t have a list of them yet, but it may be my favorite goodbye.
What I do have a list of, though, are my favorite characters, and somewhere in the top twenty – which absolutely includes the fox – is Gus McCrae. You meet him early – first, actually – in Lonesome Dove, and over the course of the book he becomes beautifully textured: he’s witty and chatty, loves whiskey, women, and cards, and really is a hell of a shot. He says what you see above in a calm moment before the cattle drive north – his take, I suppose, on shaping moments.
Sherlock Holmes (also on that favorite character list) has his version of the same thing:
Now is the dramatic moment of fate, Watson, when you hear a step upon the stair which is walking into your life, and you know not whether for good or ill.
It's sometimes, in the gathering of moments that make up my life, that I find myself happily amidst these characters, ever aware of how they shape me, and concerning myself even more with how I face them.