Even if You've Got a Horse
Updated: Aug 26
Texas, rangers, lone ranger, loneliness, together, friendships
I love Texas. The sky (and everything else) in Texas is bigger.
My grandfather was a real cowboy—a cotton farmer, land owner & cattle rancher northeast of McKinney. I have family in DFW and Houston. I spent my formative years schlepping up and down I-35 and inhabited a few small towns along the corridor between Waco and Austin, so I can share a few Texas secrets.
+ The best Czech pastries, Kolaches, are Texas-bred.
+ The world's "best dang fruitcake" has been made in Corsicana for over 100 years.
+ The best water park in America is in New Braunfels.
+ The best tamales are sold from ice chests out of the backs of pickup trucks on street corners everywhere.
Texas is known. The state's shape is visible in junk shops in cities worldwide. There are cowboy parades in remote towns in Asia. And Friday night football is all-American, but those lights don't shine any brighter than they do in Texas. Some don't know it, but the Texas Rangers (not the baseball team) is a
law enforcement agency rooted in the wild west. They are not only adored for their uniform, including cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats, but feared and respected for their Texas tenacity and noble (no-bull) way. Texas is the lone star state. One big star on the flag. Alone.
And this is where we arrive—rangers plus lone-star—and we have the Lone Ranger. I mean, the fictional character who fought crime with a Native American friend. I loved watching the Lone Ranger on television as a boy (and humming the tune of The William Tell Overture as I would speedily try to pick up my room before I finished the final refrain). "Who was that masked man?" the recently rescued would always ask. Another good question would have been, "Why the mask?" As an adult, I can recall two references to the Lone Ranger, and they both got my attention. The first was in Lyle Lovett's song, "If I Had A Boat."
The mystery masked man was smart He got himself a Tonto 'Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free But Tonto he was smarter And one day said kemo sabe Well, kiss my ass, I bought a boat I'm going out to sea While I love the song, I wish to point out–the verse is about one friend leaving another friend (the already semi-alone Lone Ranger) to go away and be alone himself on a boat.
I think about how I like to be alone. Many of my friends are surprised to hear I am a closet- introvert because I get so switched on when there are tons of people around and because I make it a habit to genuinely like everyone I meet. Though the gravitational pull of my nature is toward solitude, driving alone, running alone, and being alone with my audiobooks in the shop, I need people. We need each other.
The late Dr. Sib Towner, one of my favorite professors at Union Seminary, used to pray a thoughtful prayer, "Thanks, O Lord, for friends who love us, challenge us, anger us, and never let us wander off alone into fruitless corners…." This is really what I mean to say.
The dynamic of friendship over the course a lifetime has had marked differences every decade, primarily contingent largely in the first twenty-five years on where you go to school and who lives near you. Since the early 90s, the proliferation of mobile phones, social media, email, etc., has had an interesting impact on how long and with whom we remain friends over time. It used to be when you moved out of long-distance calling range from someone, your friendship was all but over. But the dynamic of why some friendships run out of steam (or run out of tread) is a topic for another day.
The second Lone Ranger reference (though I can't remember if she was referring specifically to the fictional character) was a comment a friend dropped when we were talking more generally about loneliness. She said this.
"You know, it gets lonely out there in the desert all by yourself, even if you've got a horse." I would never be one to disparage the heart-warming company a horse (
or a dog, or God forbid, even a cat) might provide. But these are not human creatures who can talk to us, challenge us, and help us come to understand what it means to be a person.