Some stories are worth retelling. You may remember the premise of this from nearly 700 days ago. A lot has happened since then.
It is estimated that 50 million bison roamed the great plains five hundred years ago. The bison, otherwise referred to as the American buffalo, number around 500,000 today after being hunted to less than 325 in 1884. It remains the only wild animal originally found on this continent that is kept only in captivity or in a National Park. In other words, you won’t find bison anywhere just roaming around freely.
I read where a bison rancher was asked how he herded the bison. He responded, “It’s easy. You figure out which way the bison are going, and you herd them in that direction.” There are a lot of lessons in that little quote.
The Native Americans referred to the bison as “faces the storm”, and for good reason. Let’s retell the story.
As most of you know, I grew up on a farm in West Virginia. I am pretty familiar with how chickens, pigs, sheep and cattle behave. However, in the west (see what I did there) the topography and landscape is much different. The state of Colorado is divided almost exactly in half. In the western part of the state, there are the famous Rocky Mountains and then in the eastern part of the state, are the great Kansas plains. It is very flat. This makes Colorado one of the only places in the world that has a unique climate that allows for both cattle and bison to roam freely, in close proximity to one another. Cattle and bison are similar in many ways, but there is one distinction that is worthy of noting.
Storms in Colorado can be unpredictable given the terrain of the mountain range. The Rocky Mountains are a natural barrier allowing only the mightiest of storms to come over the ridge into eastern Colorado and western Kansas. When a storm is coming, cattle and bison respond very differently.
When a storm approaches from the west, the cattle see it, so they head east and run away from it. Makes sense — hard to argue with that logical behavior. I don’t know if you have ever paid attention to a cow, but they are not exactly built for speed, so the storm eventually catches up to them and they continue to run until the storm passes over. All their running really does is keep them in the storm longer, extending the pain and discomfort. That’s a problem … the fear and the avoidance of facing the storm causes cattle to run. The cattle hope the storm will go away, and when it doesn’t, the cow is surprised with that reality. Optimism, wishful thinking, running away, avoiding the danger, looking away and pretending the storm is not there do not work.
Bison, on the other hand, do something very unnatural. When they see a storm coming, they don’t turn and run away, they head west, into the storm. This counterintuitive act actually shortens the length of time they spend in the storm. By facing the storm, the impact of the storm is dramatically reduced.
You remember the lesson? Be the Buffalo! Go “Into the Storm!”
We have experienced the perfect storm in 2020. Beginning with a pandemic that caught the world by surprise to the toxic political environment, followed by a controversial election, and then mix in a clash of culture and civil unrest. It’s a year that most of us can’t wait to slam the door on. As for COVID-19, it’s raging again and will likely occupy a bigger portion of the next 8-12 months than we want to admit. The third wave has hit with the Governor’s advisories and mandates including government restrictions on public and private behavior, as well as, reduced capacity in restaurants and gyms. All backed by the fear promoters in main-stream and social media. The dumpster fire of 2020 has been wreaking havoc on us individually, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and financially. I keep hearing folks use words like “fatigue”, “over it” and “worn out”.
The Devil whispered in my ear, “You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.”
I whispered in the Devil’s ear, “I love your eggs.”
It’s not done yet and neither are we. Turn back around! We’re going into the storm.
The work will be hard. Seeing this through will require time and effort. But we are battle tested. We must go head-first into the storm with eyes wide open, knowing that facing this obstacle straight-on with courage and fortitude will ultimately lessen the significance and effects. We must continue to lean into our challenges, wade through the muck, run into the storm, fight and embrace the struggle.
Why? Because on the other side, beyond the storm, the clouds fade away and sunshine awaits.
“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”