Cornbread Thinks: Talent ‘R’ Us

Buttermilk sent a link on Facebook one Tuesday night. She said she would like to go see some guy named Chris Botti. She likes those fancy singing guys. I’m not fancy and can’t sing, so we go see people who can. I went online, got two tickets for Saturday. Since Buttermilk is always right, I didn’t even check out this Botti. By the grace of God, third row, center. Well, he isn’t a singer. He plays trumpet. He’s one of the greatest in the world. It brings to mind people like Gerald Alexander. If you are in the business, everyone who seeks out the best knows him… respects him… is in awe of him. Mr. Botti attracts talent like money does politicians. His band is made up of people who are world class in their own right. One hundred fifty minutes of awesomeness.

“One hundred fifty” pieces of time reminds me of the two Saturdays before, when we and a few thousand others saw more awesomeness. The National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes Open finals. It was as good a set of finals as I have seen.

Lindy Burch and her mare Adelle lit Will Rogers up – like a million watts of light up in the most uplifting run I have ever seen. Magic. You had to be there. A portion, the most important portion, was behind the judges and the camera. Her first cow broke past the turnback men the second she dropped her hand. Creating a clock management decision, she rolled her dice. The cow ran behind the judges’ stand and came out the other side. Adele stayed hooked.

When that cow broke into the open, Adelle cocked and locked. Ready for a wide-open, straight-down-the-barrel sprint for the herd, her body position screamed, “Bring it!” Every single person in there absolutely knew what they were seeing. The reaction was an explosion of sound and continued the whole run. Lindy cut two more “high degree of difficulty” cows. Third place on the cards, first in our hearts. Good on you, Lindy. Thank you.

This is why you come to Will Rogers, to experience what we did that night, just as you had to be in the audience for Mr. Botti.

I don’t know much about Aristotle, but I know he said, “The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.” Experiencing this kind of math requires effort. You have to seek it out. It is worth every bit of the effort. When it comes together for you, it changes you. You needed something. Some empty place in you needed filling. You become a better human being. Seeing the results of someone giving every last bit of themselves to make the best use of the talent their God gave them reaches deep inside people. Way deep. A credit-earning cut deep into the heart.

I appreciate people not wasting what they were given. I deeply respect people who got a little shorted on talent, but not on work ethic. Many a talented person has been beaten by a harder-working person. Nowhere is this more true than in cutting. I believe this is why our rules and traditions go back so far. In the days of free range and free cows, nobody didn’t work hard. They gave all they were to their tasks. All or nothing. There were no safety nets. It was just a rider and his talents. At the gatherings, there was a job for every man and a man for every job. The “rules” were to make sure every man got what his work and talent earned him. If a man did all he could with his opportunities to end up with his brand on 300 head, that was what he got paid for. If another man with a little more talent also put all himself into it and branded 500 head, that is what he got paid for. The herd belonged to everyone and still does. Every man had to do what was best for all, all working toward the rewards. If food wasn’t cooked, if the branding fire wasn’t tended, if the remuda wasn’t watched and a dozen other possibles done, then all could be lost. There were no little jobs. Little jobs are only little when done right. Everyone has talents. Everyone has a story. Seek out the stories. Seek out the talent. Learn your talent. Learn others’ talents. Don’t underestimate theirs, don’t overestimate yours.

Cornbread Thinks: Be thirsty for talent, then practice and polish it.