It’s been nearly three decades now since I was warned by my friend and mentor, Paul Steward (now passed) that I should be careful that I didn’t get so involved with technology that I forget to go outside and use my imagination. And to think that was long before today’s Internet, truly personal computers, smart-phones and digital TV.
But here I sit – involved in the very technology I was warned over.
Oddly, my life has always been about adventure, after all one of my favorite quotes is “Get action!” I read it at about the age of 12, the same ages as its author, Teddy Roosevelt wrote it in his journal.
One of the many ‘action’ jobs I had over the years was ‘Cowboying.’ My first few weeks were spent washing pots and pans and dishes, carrying out the garbage, slopping pigs, mopping the kitchen floor, mucking the horse shit out of the stalls, feeding and watering stock, cleaning the saddles and tack, washing the saddle blankets, and milking an old cow.
Not quite the idea of being a cowboy I had imagines as there was no romance in any of that. I ended up working long ass days – filthy, sweaty and smelling half-dead.
At the end of the day – long after daylight had left in many cases – the rest of hands used me as a target for their practical jokes. They put spiders in my boots, snakes in my bunk and laughed as I screamed, jumped in fright or ran across the room.
They even took to calling me “Sierra Tom” behind my back, thus my moniker on many of my Internet pages.
Eventually, after proving myself around the main house, I was given more important job, including hanging barbed wire fencing. This led to being trusted enough to hold down a few winter months overseeing some of the cattle that lived farther out from civilization.
All of this, I share so I can explain that whether I was washing and drying dishes or riding through the snow to aid a birthing cow, I was able to day-dream, using my imagination, inventing stories far more glamorous than the one I was living. I would later draw on those ‘romanticized’ versions to help me write detailed accounts of what really happened.
So in the end Paul was right – get outside, do something and don’t spend all day in front of the computer. Paul was about action too and was out and about when he was stuck by a car as he crossed the street one evening – it left him hospitalized for a long time, whereupon he eventually succumbed.
I’m shutting down the computer for the day and heading outdoors to ‘Get action.’