• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Thursday, June 17, 2010

COWS - a diatribe

Long automobile trips are often tediously boring. When I have too much time I think – a lot.

After several monotonous hours of the same rocky dirt and gray green sagebrush a cow was a welcome interesting relief – visually and mentally. I began to watch for more: surely there is more than one lone cow along such a long road. I was rewarded. There were many cows to observe - not that there was much to observe.

What does a cow do?

Cows may be many different colors but not like a rainbow. Cows are generally tones and patches of black and white and a variety of browns shading through reds to every earth tone I have ever imagined. They are the source of many common and useful products such as milk, meat, leather, glue and – well - really, too many more things to list. Even the wastes cows produce are useful to grow verdant crops and gardens.
But what do they do; really - day in, day out - besides exist? 

Every cow I ever see is doing one of a few simple things: standing - chewing a cud or grazing; walking or running - nowhere in particular, for no reason in particular other than perhaps curiosity (except when being chased or seeking food and water) or else lowing – emitting that typical moo moo sound cows make, that occasionally might become loud and insistent enough to be described by my father as bellering. On the farm we saw many cow personalities - some placid, some feisty but most still fit my question. I remember one that didn't. She was a fence hopper. She spent every day hopping fences. Dad tried many tricks to keep her safe but eventually she 'went to a sale' - became 'beef'.

I ruminated upon this concept for a time and it generated a question to alleviate boredom: what do I do?

Now there is a question – am I, as a woman, much different than a cow?
Do I squander my time like a cow in a field chewing her cud and my energy running away from, or to see, curiosities? Am I just to be looked at or am I just making fat – beefing up (or trying to avoid it)? Is my existence of more value than my ‘meat’ - my physical body - or the making of milk, babies or other useful products?

(Men you are not off the hook either. Don’t feel like you don’t qualify as “beef” or at least ‘bull-oney’ – snicker – come on, laugh at yourself. At least cows have high production rates not to mention self replacement value and - BTW – do you let your wife know she is accomplishing more in life than a cow? is worth more in your life? means more to you than the money she earns, the dishes and clothes she washes and the children you share? Does the woman in your life know she is more than a cow?)

I have answers to many of my questions, yet I do measure myself against them.

I am a daughter of God - all women are, so are all men - a child of the Supreme Being Himself and His wife.

My father has many talents and abilities. I have inherited some abilities from him and I have learned many wise and wonderful things from him. What am I capable of learning as a child of God? I can only imagine what I might have inherited or be able to learn from my Father in Heaven. 

I have more going for me than any cow: much more than a drudgery of days – day in, day out - so do you! God loves each and every one of us individually, uniquely and personally. We ARE his children.

I became invigorated to do something more each day than eating and mooing. I became determined to try to avoid things that make me feel like a cow – determined to participate in purposeful engaging productive, planned activity every day.

At a CES Fireside for Young Adults, 3 May 2009 David A. Bednar (also see June 2010 Ensign, pg 22-31) spoke at length about ‘Things As They Really Are’ and appropriate use of our time and physical being and cautioned, “We need to heed the admonition of Paul: “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1 Thessalonians 4:4).

At milking time each cow has a stanchion the locks about her head and holds her in one place. The cow usually will be given hay and/or grain (a treat for cows) while in the stanchion and eat quietly while being milked.  Most cows are creatures of habits to the extent that if a new cow enters another’s place the ensuing chaos almost brings the barn down.  Every farmer knows tricks to train a cow into a new habit (often using feed or calves).

At feeding time cows are greedy and will trample each other and their food unless guided and restrained. If routines do not occur in precise and predictable patterns at accustomed times a cow can become very upset and moo incessantly. I have to ask myself, “Do I constantly moo for moooorree?get upset with change or am I grateful for the blessings I have?"

My habits can build and lift or destroy – me and those about me. I can make excuses and complain about the things that limit me or I can seek out ways to contribute.  I once heard a family history story of an old man in his 90’s that was physically unable to work long strenuous hours as he had done all his life. He sat near a forge and made nails. In that era nails were not machine produced but rather hammered out of scrap metal one at a time. In this way he could still contribute to the family and make productive use of his time.

I wrote the following on my mirror: ‘Don’t let the things you can’t do interfere with the things you CAN!”

I still ask myself, “What does a cow do all day?”

I also ask myself, “What do I do?”