As a photographer living in Santa Fe, I was intrigued by the cowboy persona. I would wrangle my way behind the scenes at the annual rodeo to capture their energy and swagger. Overtime I discovered so much more.

I was in the pen, next to this rider when he mounted the bull, carefully settling on his back, feeling the tension and mood of the animal. The cowboy was fully present with sharp senses and honed awareness. His body was alert and yet quiet, ready with an ease that would need to match the effort of the challenge.

The chute opened and out they came.  After so many years of mental and physical preparation, the cowboy had nothing left to plan or predict. This moment of intense fear now required only his calm and steady presence. In a spirit of complete acceptance, he simply moved with the bull. He did not panic, nor did he resist.  Clearly it took courage to ride this beast but also to surrender to his unpredictable journey and its outcome.

In watching their dangerous dance, I realized that neither the rider nor the bull was in charge. They had to work the challenges out together as partners in this wild and exhilarating adventure.

So if we want to live upward today and every day, this cowboy would tell us to follow his lead;  think less, live in the moment, accept it as it comes, don’t resist and do your best. Have the courage to surrender to what you can’t control and remember you and the bull are in this together.

And when it’s over, stand up, dust yourself off and shout out with joy!