Did you watch Rawhide when you were young? It and Bonanza were must views in my family. We only had only one television, one telephone, and until I was in high school only one car. I think that made it more necessary that we communicate with each other especially when crowded into the living room or the car (no back seat DVD viewer), but I digress. This blog is about cattle and stampedes.
I have lived much of my life in and/or near ranch country. Even in my Rawhide watching days. I would look at the dumb, placid creatures seemingly unable to exert independent thought beyond the herd collective and try to understand the oh so frequent stampedes on that television show. My father and his ranch owning friends tried to assure me that cows were fickle and skittish animals and the least little thing could set them off especially when crowded together in a drive or a pen. I thought they were putting me on until I witnessed a small stampede due to Saint Elmo's fire.
People are not unlike cattle. We do herd well as long as the grass is good, but we are skittish and rather fickle. And pack us too close together in strange circumstances and we get that walleyed look and collectively run for the exits. The cowboys of old were given to talking and singing to the cattle especially on night herd or when heading into a narrow draw or across a river crossing or the wind up. It keeps them calm. You definitely never call them stupid cows in a certain tone of voice.
I believe one of the stupidest things leaders do with humans is try to herd them blindly without regard to what the herd wants (see previous TWC blogs about GWBush), and when something goes wrong immediately attempt to declare fault: "Him! Not me! I didn't do it." Generally said in that same tone of voice as "Stupid Cows."
Dad used to say I was a cat masquerading as a cow. And it is wise to remember that cats cannot be herded. I am always, despite looks to the contrary, totally aware when I am being managed (human herding) and will drift along if it is where I want to go all the time looking for an avenue of escape. Or a way to change the herd the way I want to go. Dad said I was rather good at leading from the rear, which is something generals do, but again I digress.
I have been rather focused on issues of transportation of late and moving along with the herd somewhat blindly but still filtering in bits and pieces of discord. This week the transportation issue was temporarily solved and I could give the collective my full attention. I realized rather suddenly I had gone way too far down this one draw. Note it is not easy to stop in the middle of herd movement. And it does tend to make other members of the herd a bit skittish. (See previous blogs on critical mass and angle of repose.) So I just signaled for a couple quick turns and hoped it would lead me to the off ramp. Everyone pretended to not hear me or smile that she-will-change-her-mind smile.
I think artists are like cats not cows. And we herd together into rooms and buildings to ply our wares but we are out of our element (the lonely studio of our design), and having to play nice with people we wouldn't share our sandbox with. It is a time for that night drover to pass by singing a gentle tune (See Sons of the Pioneers) or walk along and talk to us as sentient humans (See Startrek:TNG). Running to the cellphones and communicating with spindoctors, especially if things are not going well, really does not work (see first paragraph digression about communication).
I get bullheaded (Mother's term) in such situations. Every single claw comes out and I hold fast to my position like a cat not wanting to go to the vet, especially when someone as good as my mother at passive/aggressive management is trying to get me in that cat carrier while mumbling, "stupid cow" or "if you would just go gently" to the slaughter house.
Bottomline I am running straight for the exits. I will hold out in my sandbox until I find a herd going my direction. Maybe.
PS: I did put on those turn signals. Someone should have listened.