Learning from an old hand

Looking back to our past, we find teachings that have become essential for living a life of meaning and fulfilling our purpose as we develop a relationship with life, nature, and God. 

Our forefathers, and theirs before them, gained wisdom from the results of their actions. Mark Twain once said, “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decision.” 

Trial and error are the ultimate instructor, and survival gives rise to the fittest. These traits have been passed down through the ages, giving rise to traditions that stand out among certain groups. It is our nature to seek wisdom. 

As a young child, we mimic the actions of our elders as can be seen by this illustration, “A father advises a child to ‘Watch where you step!’ and the child replies, ‘Then watch where you step, because I am stepping in your footsteps!” 

You see, wisdom is gained by making good choices and often we mimic the actions of others. This gives us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes so that when we make wise choices, we receive positive growth as we develop our bodies and minds. These life lessons are enhanced by the emotion that is the very glue that binds us to one another, to our history, and to our hope for the future. 

That emotion is love, which teaches us the importance of loving ourselves that we might love others unconditionally displaying compassion and kindness to ourselves as well as others. 

This is a necessity in that it builds respect which in itself helps us understand the value of all living things as we gain the ability to treat each entity with dignity and bestow the honor associated with following “The Golden Rule.” 

Though this term does not appear in the bible, it is associated with a rule of conduct that Jesus taught in His “Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew 7:12, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” 

This verse emphasizes the importance of treating oneself, others, and nature with respect. This often takes bravery that inspires us to stand up to the obstacles, and courage to face our fears as we reach out for what is right. Often this requires you to be truthful and trusting which builds loyalty and integrity into your being, yet doing so in a manner of humility showing that we all are equal as we strive to make a positive impact on our world. And with this comes understanding of the truth of our knowledge that allows us to be open-minded to the reality of our existence. 

Traits that become part of our physical as well as mental and spiritual life, shape our character and give direction to our life. 

Just knowing that a youngster might be mimicking your actions should be enough of a motivating force to cause you to pause and evaluate your role. Even if you are not mimicked, what is seen in your everyday actions speaks volumes about your life. 

My dear old sainted Mother would often remind us kids, “Let others see Jesus in you!” What a different world we would live in if everyone followed that bit of advice! 




Well,’ it shore stacks up like that dagnabbed bossman has 

saddled me with this here job. An’ I reckon I’ll take it, 

for winter spots is few and far between an’shore hard to find. 

But, I can just tell what he’s got a-hankerin’ for, shore as spit.


I reckon he’s a-figgerin’ for me to nursemaid this greenhorn kid

that figgers he knows all thar is!… What more would he need?

Truth is, he ain’t even close to havin’ near enuff twixt his ears

Just to crawl outta his bunk an’ git a riggin’ on a jugheaded steed.


Well, first thing I’ll learn ‘em is how to always reach fer his hat  

‘fore anything else, as he crawls out of his bunk at break o’ day.

An’ then, grab them boots an’ give ‘em a shake to dump the critters out

‘cuz they’ll shore git in thar, an’ give you a shock to move you on your way.


I reckon it’ll take a spell fer ‘em to git this much down

‘cuz I imagine he’s thinkin,’ “what’s with this old gent?”

An’ he’s likely gonna bow up an’ maybe git all pouch mouthed.

‘cuz he reckons as how he can handle hisself, pay his own rent.


But when that ol’ sun is a-bakin’ his head, ‘cuz he ferget his hat,

an’ after about the third time a scorpion thumps his toe,

as he begins to figger things out an’ git stuff put together, he’ll

say, “now about shakin’ out my boots, how’d that old man know?”


Wal, now that I’ve got his attention, maybe these lessons he’ll learn;

How you got to fill up the water bucket when you’ve drunk the last drop.

An’ you always grab a few chunks of stove wood on your way back

from the outhouse and keep the wood stack neat as you put ‘em on top.


The next goal will be to teach this young whippersnapper to just be hisself.

He’ll have to stack up to be his own man, fork his own bronc, take a stand 

Your expected to back up your word with action that’s honest and true.

Treat folk right, follow the “Golden Rule,” an’ always ride for the brand.


Now you got to be fair in your dealin’s with all kinds of folk, an’ that’s the truth

Treat folk right , an’ don’t be a-hornin’ in on matters that just ain’t your own

Nor a-talkin’ about folk when the facts kinda run all together,.. if it tain’t good,

 just don’t say it, ‘cuz words are shore ‘nuff dangerous when just carelessly sown. 


A feller has shore got to watch hisself as he just trods down life’s path

Remember to always respect the women folk, put ‘em on top of the stack,

An’ I reckon it always good to remember to ask the Good Lord to help you.

For the Code of the West shore ‘nuff don’t change an’ that’s a proven fact!


Now this teachin’ time…well, it goes quick an’ time shore is a-gettin’ short,

‘cuz they’s a lots to say an’ a heap a-learnin’ this young’un is gonna need,

‘bout pickin’ a camp site, buildin’ a fire, an’ a-readin’ sign, 

checkin’ his backtrail an’ watchin’ his pony, I hope these facts he’ll heed.


Plus a-tellin’ the time by looking at where the Big Dipper points.

An’ there’s so much more that a hand will need, to help him with the fight.

He’ll hafta be able to find the North Star, ‘cuz that’s how he’ll know

where to point the wagon tongue when the herd is bedded down for the night


 Now about his hoss,… I reckon I can never learn ‘em enuff, ‘cuz that critter

 Will be with ‘em through thick an’ thin, be a pard when the trail gets tough 

but he’ll need to speak soft, give a pat, rub ‘em down at days end,

Treated right, he’ll give his all, an’ make a hand, even when the goin’s rough.


why that ol’ pony will alert em’ to all danger, or let ‘em know thangs is all right,

just by a-blowin or a-flappin’ its ears, an’ it’ll be the first to smell the water hole

when he’s searchin’ for evenin’ camp, or a place to noon, or jest to sit an’ breathe a spell.

An’ I reckon that ol’ pony can understand ‘em, an’ becomes a mate fer the soul. 


Well, that’s most of it, but there’s a thing or two more that fits into the plan,

‘cuz I shore do hope he takes time to get quite and let all of this soak in,

the wonders of life, the majesty of the stillness, the fury of the storm.

Yeah, life is all of that, the hectic and the calm. An’ when you capture it, you win. 


Now as I said, the Code of the West shore ‘nuff don’t never change,

So, if he’ll always hold that fact true, I reckon it’ll keep ‘em straight.

‘cuz if he’s generous, honest, loyal an’ fair in all his dealin’s on this range

Wal’ I’m shore that he’s gonna find that life is good an’ always first rate.

©   Ol’ Jim Cathey


Thank you to the men and women that set a good example for our youth.. 

God bless each of you and God Bless America!

The Marlin Democrat

251 Live Oak St
Marlin, TX 76661
Phone: (254) 883-2554
Fax:(254) 883-6553