The Rustic Side

I would imagine that if you live in or come from a metropolis or any town or village with a thousand-plus population, you may not be familiar with the rustic side. I would wager that if you are rushing off to work in the morning in a suit and tie or business skirt and heels, that you aren’t familiar with the pristine air that fills your lungs as you are walking outside your front door at 8,000 feet with the clouds swirling around your head, like fog rolling in off of the ocean. The scent of pinõn and juniper that boils out of the stove pipe in this thin atmosphere can be breath taking, with nights so clear that the stars stand out and it seems that you can touch them. Twinkling like diamonds against a black velvet sky and on a full moon evening, the terrain is lit up so clear that man and beast alike move freely, unobstructed by the night. These are just a few of the beauties of the rustic side of life. I’ve done time on some backed-up boulevards and spent hazy days when you couldn’t see the sun and long surreal nights where the stars were outshone by manmade lights. There’s beauty in the warm neon buzz and the short horizons of a city skyline, and I’m fortunate to have seen these sights and to have lived among and observed those who inhabit these landscapes, whether it be Sunset Boulevard, Market Street, or the Great White Way. Few have known the absolute awe inspiring beauty of the Gila Wilderness or being on horseback where no motor driven vehicle has ever rolled a tire. In this setting you can just as easily scare up an elk on the edge of a mountain and before you have the wherewithal to decide if you want to shake out a loop or take a picture, the bull has slid on his hocks down the face of the cliff. Maybe you’re riding up a draw that empties into a canyon; you ride back and rim up on an untraveled path. Reaching three quarters the way to the top you come upon a small cave opening. Standing on the sheer slope of the mountain you peer in to see a simple metate, with the grinding stone still in it that no man has seen since it was last used by the native who left it there. These are sights that people in populated areas cannot fathom. When one is struck by beauty in any form the mental picture snapped by that individual can’t be duplicated; it can only be described second hand or be reconstructed as a museum mockup. So as I am giving you my second hand description of the rustic side of life, the point I am driving home is that we should live life to its fullest and see whatever we can see, whether it be lying on your back near the edge of a cliff at 9,000 feet with your pony hobbled behind you and seeing two military fighter jets swoop past you barely fifty yards above, or walking in the middle of San Francisco’s seven square miles of absolute beauty amid the swirling sights and tastes of most of the world’s cultures. It could be considered a true act of generosity to take a mountain man into your home in the great city of New York and let him live and experience your life, or to take an L.A. girl into your two-room cabin in the middle of the wilderness and allow her to experience the grandeur of your life there. For someone who has lived a pretty colorful life—to be polite—I have lived my travels close to the bone, existing in the places and with the people I’ve come across. After living this way most of my life I still find it exhilarating to wander among new people in different places, like taking a room a couple of flights up on Rue Claire in Paris and breathing the air, tasting the food and hearing the way my guitar sounds in a foreign climate. Such are the dilemmas of a chameleon, and I don’t use that term meaning to hide; I use it meaning to get along with all and get along with every culture. Walking in the middle of the punch westerns—the cowboys, the rancher types—they always said, “Why, you are kind of a hippy-looking son of a buck aren’t ya?” but I knew the code, and I was capable and talented in their world so I walked among them with only the occasional raised eyebrow. Then there was the dirt hippie crowd; the rainbow people. I walked freely among them because I knew their lingo and I had a lot of the same proclivities and conversed comfortably with them. So when I walked among them I was hardly recognized or maybe wholly recognized famous or infamous…what’s the difference? I also have many life-long brethren from the biker faction and here I got along famously: although they rode horses of iron and worshipped that lifestyle, I rode horses of flesh and knew how to handle both. For this reason I have been constantly pulled from the rustic side, the way of life I was born into. I’ve studied at the heart of the human condition and been able to empathize and feel a person’s plight. Because of this I’ve gravitated towards the populous to tell the stories that are engraved upon my mind like ancient stone etchings. That, and my ambition to have the world hear these stories, is what keeps me in this technological age, mingling with those who have inspired these tales and the hungry ears who long for their retelling.

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