Cowboys, haircuts and hamburger soup

The 3 lessons I learned about life

Many many years ago I was a 19 yr old city boy living in a small farming/agricultural town performing a service oriented mission. I had somewhat a big head and huge attitude about what I thought life should be like. I had been taught well by my parents and had a good understanding between right and wrong. I will admit there were several things that I was missing. My view of life and the way I thought it should be were a bit skewed. That’s when I met a cowboy and his wife Julie.

One day, while gathered with others doing the same service mission as myself,  we were all in need of getting our haircut. The other individuals I was with told me about a lady that would cut out hair for free. She had been doing this for many of the other service individuals in the past so I decided to go get my haircut for free. As we drove for what seemed like eternity out to what appeared to be a lush green pasture of cattle and silos we finally reached our destination. We pulled up to a very conservative but quaint house. We were all welcomed in and that was when I was introduced to Julie.

When it became my time to get my haircut, I went into the kitchen and I faced the back of the house overlooking a vast amount of green pasture and silos. I started to make the usual conversation while getting my haircut when I heard the front door open. At first I was not really alarmed because there were many people in the front room and its common for people to leave and come. At that very instant that’s when the hair on my head went straight up and I got a strange eerie feeling. Almost like the feeling you get when you watch one of those movie thrillers that makes you wait for something to happen before you jump out of your seat. That exactly how I was feeling. I heard what I thought was a “clanging” sound followed by a clunk on the solid wood floor. This proceeded 2-3 more times. Now remember, I am just a young city punk from a big city, needless to say, I was a little freaked out. Almost immediately Julie went on to tell me that her husband was home. She took a minute to say hi and that’s when I got my first opportunity to turn around. I seriously could not believe my eyes. Now, I have seen movies with “cowboys” and was familiar with their appearance, but Julie’s husband appeared to me like an old southwest cowboy that you would see in an old John Wayne movie or one of those movies like “Tombstone.” He had a big 10 gallon dirty cowboy hat, several neckerchiefs around his neck, well worn long sleeve shirt and blue jeans. He wore a pair of large chaps (that’s those big leather pieces that they tie to the front of their legs)  that covered the front of both of his legs. The “clanging” sound was his spurs (those are those round metal wheels that are pointy and they attach them to their boots) hanging off the back of his well worn boots. Even though I had seen movies with cowboys, this time I was awestruck. I am sure my facial expressions even exuded some judgement. When my heart finally started to slow down and Julie was done talking to her husband, my haircut was finished.

As time went on, I continued to get my haircut from Julie. Little by little getting to know more about her family and me telling her about my family. A few months went by and Julie had told all of us that they would be moving about 3 hours south to a even smaller town. You could see in her eyes that she was going to miss her current place and you could even see the doubt and discouragement in her eyes. She knew it was the right thing to do even though her heart was not into the “big” move. A couple of us had volunteered to help move their family.

After driving on a narrow but paved highway, the rest of our trip took us to a dirt road for what seemed to be about 2 hrs. We finally pulled into town and it was a small town. You always hear about those towns that if you blink while you are driving through it you can miss it. This was one of those towns. There were maybe a dozen or so houses on the main street, a small school for K-12 graders and even a small building that represented the post office. After helping for some hours we decided to make the long and dusty trip back to civilization. Julie asked us if we wanted to eat. I knew that they were not what you call “well off” and we did not want to impose, but she said that she would just add some water to the hamburger soup. So we took her up on her offer, had something to eat and proceeded with the long drive back.

So now you are asking yourself, what are the three things that I learned about life. I presume that they may not be very evident, but most of life’s experiences are what you make of them. It was apparent that Julie and her husband were not what you call “well off” but to see the service she rendered to give free haircuts to those that were serving for a different cause taught me the importance that what ever circumstance or financial situation you may be in its always important to serve others. I look at the sacrifice Julie made to move to a small little town where there was more live stock in the town than people just to support a husband that that she had made a promise to be with for the rest of her life. Many times in our life we may not like the choice placed before us, but we make the sacrifice for the greater good or the good for the people that we want to support and love in life. Now we get to the hamburger soup. Many times in life we take opportunities to serve without recognition or want anything in return only to be given more in return. I read an article not long ago that studied the richest people in the world. The objective was to better understand what set them apart from the “others.” The conclusion was the amount of time they gave back. Whether is was helping others on a one-on-one basis, coordinating large service expeditions or just what they did on a personal level to make an impact in others lives. The monetary value was not the goal, but rather they truly felt they were helping, making sacrifices and serving others.

I have had the fortunate opportunity to keep in contact with Julie’s family over the years and every so often I feel the need to tell them  “thank you.”

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