Taking on the Bull

It was one of many similar days; running errands, doing chores. You know the drill. In the middle of it all, the A-Man’s phone sounded out his little text alert. Someone had something to say to him. And what were they saying?

“Do you like bull riding?”

The A-Man, being the cutie-pa-tootie responder that he is mentioned that

he did, but since he has thrown his back out, he wasn’t quite sure that he was up to getting on another bull. Ah, smiley face.

On to the point. Some friends of ours had tickets to a suite at the Cowboy Stadium to see the Pro-Bull Riding Association that night. Wow! It didn’t take the A-Man and I long to decide that we were all in and taking it on! Also, hanging out in an all you can eat and drink suite didn’t sound so bad, either.

I was so excited to experience my first ever bull riding rodeo! Man vs. bull. 8 seconds of pure craziness. That is, if they could make it. My first thought: what do I wear? This was a very important question. I didn’t want to seem like a city slicker amidst a crowd of cow-peeps. The A-Man had an edge on me in this department. He actually owns real bona-fide cowboy boots. However, when he popped out of the room wearing them over his skinny jeans, I was able to openly make fun of him. He informed me that he was showing me what a Hollywood cowboy would wear, but he knew better. I appreciate his insight and demonstrations. I feel so knowledgeable now.

Off to the closet we went. Hmmmm… I, of course, own jeans. I even have a checked shirt. I have lots of boots. None of them are of the cowboy variety. I had all of this, but I had also just bought a really cute little black dress and I figured, why not? LBD and my black boots. Fun, flirty, cowgirl-esque. Emphasis on the esque more than the cowgirl part. Maybe if I had thrown my hair into some pigtails, that could have helped.

Anyhoo…

Attire set, off to the stadium we went. Forgetting that I live in Texas, I didn’t realize what a big deal a rodeo would be. The stadium was cram-packed full of jeans-wearing, cowboy boot adorned country people. I sound so city right now. I know, I know. I even live somewhat out in the country, you could say, but my daily experience doesn’t really pack a country punch. For some reason, I picture these ranchers and cow folk living in far off places, driving cattle runs and yippee kay-yi-yaing off into the sunset on their horses named Silver. In reality, they’re my neighbors. And on this night, they were coming out in droves.

We paraded in with the crowds and found our way to the suite where our friends were at. Pretty nice digs. Also, the food was quite tasty. Not a bad way to get to see this thing. I think the only place better would have been if we could actually be on the floor with the bulls and the riders, feeling the thumping of the hooves, smelling the stink of the dirt, sweat, and the bull- you know what.

As we took our seats, the lights in the arena shut down as suddenly fireworks shot off and flaming letters P-B-A glowed from the dirt. As the sparks settled, red lights shot up from the center ramp and the announcer started calling off the names of the line up of bull riders. 40 in all. Many from Texas, surprisingly a lot from Brazil. These men stomped up the ramp in their worn out jeans, colorful chaps and big cowboy hats covering their eyes. It certainly created a visual of big, strong men that could take on the bulls and win. I may have to recreate that scene with the A-Man at home sometime. I don’t care if you’re not into cowboys, on this night you would have been. Just sayin’.

After the lineup was introduced, it was on to the bulls. What I didn’t realize about rodeos and bull riding, is that it’s not simply about the bull rider staying on for 8 seconds. It is man vs bull and each bull represented a different level of skill required by the rider. Essentially, it wasn’t just the men competing against each other, the bulls could win, too. And these were some pretty bad-ass bulls.

In the first round, there were 40 riders taking on the bulls. While they rode, I took on some rather tasty prime rib roast. I felt like we were going hand in hand, those bull riders and me. While I had success in flavor fantasy, the bull riders were not so lucky. The first 3 riders didn’t even make it to 2 seconds of riding. No sooner would the announcer finish saying their names and achievements than they would be flung off the bull and scrambling off the ground to get out of the way of its stomping hooves. If you blinked, you would miss it. And these guys were 40 of the world’s best riders! Craziness.

It really struck me when a rider from Canada got to his turn. The announcer started listing off his stats and in that ramble I heard that this guy had literally broken his back last year riding a bull. The doctors didn’t even know if he would be able to walk again, let alone get on a bull. Yet here he was, one year later, with the best of the best and getting ready to own that beast. It amazed me. What in the world would ever possess this guy to risk another break, to possibly never walk again just to ride this bull for 8 seconds?

Then it hit me. He was doing it because he felt called to it and it was his passion. It’s the same reason that anyone in any field will take something on to the ends of their limits and then some. He was so filled with a drive and desire to be the best that he overcame major obstacles to get to a place where he could fulfill on his dreams. With the dreams came a possible cost, and that was something he was willing to accept because his vision of succeeding, of overcoming the bull was greater than any loss he could sustain in his world. He had to. He simply just had to. Holy cow.

Here I was, sitting in this sweet suite, eating my yummy food and imbibing a delicious drink and this man was down on the floor, literally putting his life on the line to own his dreams. What a reality check. This was certainly not something I had anticipated learning from going to the rodeo. Who knew when the A-Man and I were trying to look our country best that we would get slapped in the face with what someone on a quest looks like. How they show up. What they are willing to do. It made us cheer all the harder for him. I didn’t care where he was from or who he was, I just wanted him to beat that bull and make good on his journey. He did win that round and made it on to the next.

In the end, the second round of bulls took thrashing to a whole other level and on this night- the bulls won. It was okay, though. Mr. Canada had defeated one and had held his place amongst the best of the best in the world. He would go on to defend his dream another day, and I know that there is that million-dollar bull that has yet to be defeated, but will soon meet his match by this determined man that has a dream. That will be a beautiful day.

So what I expected to be a take on of just a fun night and a new experience left me with so much more than I could have imagined. First of all, I love that I got to experience a reiteration of such an important life lesson in such an unexpected place. It’s those moments that take you by surprise that can really make the biggest impact. The best part though, the inspiration that one person has given me. In these last few days since witnessing his tenacity, I’ve taken my own bull by the horns and am inspecting what I have been expecting of myself. With that, I’m taking simple daily steps to move me closer to my passion each day. To better myself so that when the heat of the moment calls for it, I’ll be ready.

It doesn’t matter what your best of is at. It doesn’t matter what your passion calls you to. The beauty for each of us is that it doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. A bull rider has inspired me to reach higher for my dreams. Perhaps the best carpet layer will be another catalyst. Maybe it’s the Olympian athlete. Its not the discipline, it’s the person. And so I must work, because perhaps there is someone, putting on their cute little black dress and boots, not expecting anything in particular, but woken to her dreams because I was busy and passionate about pursuing mine and our paths happened to collide. Even if only for 8 seconds.

What inspires you? What do you picture yourself being the best at? I’d be honored to hear your dreams and passions and maybe we can take on those “bulls” together!