Ride for the Brand

RufusPart of the cowboy code is that he demonstrates his loyalty to the ranch he serves by riding “for the brand”. Now if you’re a critter you may actually wear the brand which shows you’re owned by that ranch. Fortunately for me, Pop never felt like branding was necessary for those of us here at Rocky Creek . . . except the bovines. Ol’ Smarty, our Mustang, also bears a brand he got from the BLM when he was just a colt. It’s a freeze brand that has these hieroglyphic type markings that show when he was born and what herd he’s originally from. Kinda like a family name. But I digress.
These days I reckon it’s pretty common for people who identify strongly enough with an affiliation to get their version of a brand; usually a tattoo. Pop don’t have any of those even though he’s got some pretty strong attachments – the Marine Corps, Auburn and so on.
Anyway, my point with all this is that while it is important to ride for the brand (kinda like dancing with the one who brung ya), it’s just as important to know when to move on when you just can’t ride for ‘em anymore. Sometimes trails diverge and, for whatever reason, a fella’s moral compass just tells him he has to part company and follow his own path. Hopefully the terms are amicable but sometimes they ain’t.
Pop had to make a tough call a while back that durn near broke his heart. Ya see he’s loved the Boy Scouts since he was a young un and has always been real proud to let folks know he’s an Eagle. When the time came to give back, he was just as proud to be an adult leader for a whole bunch of years. In a nutshell there was just a cumulative effect over the past few years where his thinkin’ and the BSA’s became so different that he just couldn’t ride for that brand anymore. In all fairness, Pop recognized that Scouting is a business and as such they have to make enough money to keep the programs going. Pop just felt like they sacrificed too many of the fundamental elements that had made them a bastion of society since the days of their British founder Lord Baden-Powell. Now whether Pop is right or wrong on his decision ain’t the point. The point is, he just figured he couldn’t ride for that brand anymore so he stepped away from their ranch. No hard feelings. Just sadness for Pop.
I learned from Pop’s experience that sometimes it takes more guts to walk away. Now don’t get that confused with quittin’. Quittin’ is plum different. And there ain’t no quit in Pop or me. A while back I heard Pop mention this philosophy called the Serenity Prayer. It goes somethin’ like “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” When you’ve tried your best to make changes (or make sure some things don’t) and you’re smart enough to figure out that your efforts are futile, it’s time to move on.
Things are pretty serene around here at Rocky Creek Ranch. So I reckon I’ll keep ridin’ for this brand.