Soul Wranglers #52
By Graham Bell
‘Emotions were like wild horses and it required wisdom to be able to control them’
OK. I’m going to show my urban roots now.
Up until a couple of years ago if you had asked me what wranglers were, I would have replied simply ‘jeans’ - and if asked to elaborate - ‘denim jeans’. I was confident in my ignorance until I needed the help of a real-life wrangler.
Like many of life’s experiences this was done (a) to keep one of my children happy and (b) it seemed like a good idea at the time. Well, sort of.
My daughter and I were travelling across Arizona and stopped at the Grand Canyon where she spied the advert for ‘Mule Rides Along the Rim’. As a keen rider she wanted to do it. And I thought it would be a memorable experience for her. Except she wanted company, having bravely done a ride in the Nevada desert without me! So it was with some trepidation that I set off on the early morning mule ride.
Now, somewhat naively, I was more concerned about being on a mule than I was about the route the mules would take. That is until we headed right up to the rim! And the gaping canyon stretched out before me.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Yes, that is the Grand Canyon that this wrangler is in front of. And that mule is peering over the edge of the Canyon Ridge. And this picture was taken with my camera phone, not a telephoto lens from some distance away. It was during this expedition that I discovered a wrangler is the name given to a person in charge of horses or other livestock. I thought that was the job of cowboys – again showing my roots!
And just to show why I was suddenly so interested in the work of wranglers, have a look at this picture, taken by me from atop a mule. I almost managed to get the picture straight, in spite of the quiet terror I felt as I gripped the reins with one hand and the camera-phone with the other.
The wrangler was calmly explaining that she had never lost a mule over the edge. Nor a tourist for that matter. However, she did warn us not to let the mule go backwards out to the gaping ravine. Apparently they lose their sense of perspective when going the wrong way……
That adventure was almost four years ago but it is one I think of often, as does my daughter who still ribs me about the expression on my face as we trotted along, me cautiously viewing the majestic scenery.
But for some unknown reason it came back to me last week. I had a random music playlist on in the background as I did some tech maintenance. Suddenly a tune hit me, and it felt, almost literally. I must have heard the tune before, but it had clearly never registered. This time it did. And I don’t know why.
But the haunting trumpet playing of Chris Botti had an effect like a tractor driving through a field. It ploughed up my emotions, causing me to stop what I was doing, sit down and listen to the tune. And then I did it again. And then once more. How can a tune do that to us? And it made me think of how we all are soul wranglers, human beings who, for all our ‘modernity’ and ‘rationalism’, can still have our emotions churned up by something as simple as a piece of music.
Once composed again, I discovered the title of the instrumental piece was ‘Love gets old’, composed – in a different way to me - by the South African flautist Wouter Kellerman.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
On the same expedition across south west USA I had the privilege of meeting one of my favourite business writers, Roy H. Williams aka, The Wizard of Ads. In one of his Monday Morning Memos Roy talked about the ‘power of echoic intrusiveness to enter an unwilling mind and the tenacity of echoic retention to remain’.
We often laugh about earworms, a snippet of music pestering our minds. But feelings and emotions can be soulworms, gnawing away at us.
And that is when we need to be our own ‘soul wranglers’ to be in control of our thoughts and moods. Perhaps this drawing from the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in Amarillo shows us how to be such soul wranglers.
"To live happily is an inward power of the soul."
Stay safe. Lead well
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