• Davis Young

My own very small role in settling the Wild West.


Just north of Scottsdale, Arizona, sits the small town of Carefree - altitude 2,568 feet, population 3,876. At some point in yesteryear, I attended a conference in Carefree. Back then, if it was happening in Carefree, chances are the Carefree Inn was the engine that got it started.


On our conference schedule was a desert cookout. I thought this event would be a lot of fun - except for one thing. The expectation was that if you were going to attend, you would come by horseback. This was to be my first time riding a horse and to say I was a bit nervous would be a substantial understatement. I was terrified. I have since ridden both elephants and camels, but back then I was a raw rookie. I braced myself for what I suspected would be a massive stampede and almost certain death.


On the day of the cookout, I recall a large group of us assembled as wranglers began assigning us to our horses. In fact, the exact number of riders that day was 107. I have a mind that carries that kind of trivia around for years.


Experienced riders confidently climbed aboard and were in complete control. Their horses were motionless. I tried to slip - unnoticed - further and further to the back of the line. Finally, the moment of truth had arrived for me. With a big push of my bum by some scruffy wrangler, I was aboard. It took only a minute for my horse to become restless and to get out of line as he spotted some sort of desert plant he wanted to eat. I’m not sure, but I think it might have been grass. The wrangler came flying over and said Don’t let him eat that. I remember my response to this day. He eats what he wants to eat when he wants to eat it. I mean this is America, right? No wrangler was going to push me or my horse around.


Soon enough a line of 107 of us set out. I felt a rush of confidence come over me as it became immediately clear these horses make the same trip to the same cookout site probably four times a week, perhaps more. They could do this blindfolded. Or so I thought.


Suddenly, my horse took a sharp right turn and the two of us headed off in our own direction, separated from the group by an ever-increasing distance. This was very disconcerting for someone like me who is used to being in control. The horse was in control and was riding me more than I was riding him. For a few long minutes I envisioned myself as one of the only American immigrants illegally crossing the border INTO Mexico. In reality, we were far from the border, but the horse had a plan I was not made aware of - and my mind was racing through all kinds of scenarios.


Finally, we emerged from our desert exploration, came up over a small hill and - amazingly - arrived at the cookout. Of the 107 horses that had set out, we finished third. A total of 104 horses and riders that took the traditional route came in behind us. Losers all. That was truly one of the greatest moments of my life - a surprise podium finish on my first ride. How great is that?


The American West is big country where big people have accomplished big things. I may not qualify as a “big” person and, yes, my horse was a tad aged, but we accomplished great things that day. First and foremost, I rode him. That was an accomplishment in itself. We also developed a deep trust of each other - me that he would eventually get me where I needed to go, and him that I would not scream bloody murder when he went off trail.


The world needs more horses that blaze their own trails. What horse has ever made a difference by simply taking the well-worn path? My horse broke the mold. Good for him. To use a traditional southwestern term, it takes some chutzpah to walk a different trail. There are an infinite number of ways to get from Point A to Point B, and I am forever thankful to that horse for reminding me of this.

 

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.


In Athens - at the top of a hill known as the Acropolis and overlooking the city center - sits an historic site known as the Parthenon.


The Parthenon has been there since five centuries before the birth of Christ or, put another way, about 25 centuries before today. By contrast, New York City’s world famous Empire State Building was completed less than one century ago.


Open to the public, the Parthenon welcomes thousands of visitors each day (at least it did pre-COVID) to experience its beauty and the incredible views of Athens. There is only one caveat. You must climb the Acropolis to visit the Parthenon. There is no escalator. To go up is a choice. To come down is a requirement, as there is no Marriott or restaurant to sustain you at the top.


And so it was one day that my wife and I set out to make the climb. Some say it’s not difficult. I disagree. There are no consistent steps, no well-anchored handrails, nothing at all to grab onto. You are on your own traversing well-worn (aka slick) steps with a variety of inches in height, depth and width. Each one is different from the one before or the one coming up. They are smooth and can be very slippery with a little morning dew on the surface. How many of these steps are there? I didn’t count, but I assure you there are a whole bunch.


While inching my way up, I noticed a man ascending ahead of me. He was using two canes. It was obvious he was struggling. But, he plowed onward and upward, powering his way to the top. He wanted to see the Parthenon and nothing was going to stop him, not even a climb where anybody in perfect health could easily fall and be injured - much less someone with mobility issues.


Later that day, we were in the square that contains the Plaka, which is the old town Athens shopping area. I saw the man with the canes again. I caught his eye and he said, I think I recognize you. Are you from Cleveland? Talk about a small world. Two Clevelanders meeting for the first time in Greece.


I walked over and said, Yes, I am a Clevelander. I saw you going up and down the Acropolis this morning and I really respect how you just kept moving. That clearly wasn’t easy. He responded, No, it wasn’t. I have bone cancer. Learning that, I couldn’t believe he had been able to make it up and down. We talked for a few more minutes, then departed vowing to get together once we were back home. His name was Lou. We did see him again, this time at his home. Some time after that, we learned he had died.


I don’t tell you this story to make you sad. Rather, I hope it inspires you. When you’re facing a tough day or perhaps down in spirits, think of this man with two canes who got himself up and down a big hill to spend time seeing an historic site that was important to him. For me and I hope for you, that shows we can muster the energy and willpower to accomplish big things even in the face of adversity. When we don’t give up, we can reach higher than we might ever think possible.


I hope each of us reaches higher today in our own life. Live those words we hear so often - HAVE A GREAT DAY.


Just like my friend Lou did, keep on keepin’ on.

 

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

Turns out my life was NEVER in danger....


Have you ever been to Prescott, Arizona? Nice town. Very attractive.


I was in Phoenix several years ago on business when a day opened up on my schedule. What could I do to fill the unexpected gift of time? I’m a big fan of Sedona. I had been there before and I don’t think anyone can go to Sedona too many times. Talk about spectacular natural beauty. Wow!


So, I set off to Sedona. That’s a couple hours north of Phoenix on Interstate 17. Roughly halfway, I passed an exit for the town of Prescott and thought to myself that I’d make a quick re-acquaintance with Sedona, then double back to see what Prescott was all about.

Fast forward to early afternoon. I came upon the Prescott town square lined with shops and other small businesses. It is a really large town square. My first surprise was the big trees full of healthy leaves and the rich green grass throughout the square. They looked like what one would expect to see on a trip to the East Coast. No desert scrub in the town center.

There is a modest change in elevation from the bottom of the town square to the other end, just a few feet but enough of a change so that the entire square and the desert beyond come into full panoramic view.


After a quick lunch of something long forgotten but probably attention-getting at the time because it was full of southwestern green peppers, I went to the high end of the square to take it all in. Out on the desert I could see some activity that one would imagine to be a sand storm.


Big clouds of desert dust were slowly coming my way. In another few minutes I began to hear noise associated with the dust. The noise became louder and louder as the cloud moved ever closer. Finally, I saw a couple of motorcycles, then more and more. Eventually a huge group of motorcycles – I thought perhaps 300 – were descending on Prescott.


The people aboard those bikes were what you think of when you visualize what a pack of motorcyclists might look like. They wore identical t-shirts. It’s possible some of the shirts (and perhaps some of the riders) had never been washed. This situation did not give me great confidence. I remember thinking I’m too young to die. Where could I hide that these thugs would not find me? Would my nearby rental car have any chance to out-run them? I was trapped.


Soon, the gang was upon me and I was shocked to see what their not-too-clean t-shirts said: Riders for Christ. There I was a first-timer in Prescott, Arizona, in the midst of a Christian riding group. I could not have been safer.


It had been a very nervous few minutes, but I was going to live to see another day. This scary experience reinforced what I had been told all my life and it is this: You can’t tell a book by its cover.


I will never forget the Prescott town square. It’s waiting for you and your Harley hog.

 

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

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