Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

The Land Baroness And The Cowhand

Carmel By The Sea, California, USA

July 22, 2007

This essay, The Land Baroness And The Cowhand, is the companion piece to Nepenthe.

It is also the second in a group of nine on Passion: It is also the prequel to Dirty Clothes, Clean Hands: A Stand.

One of his earliest recollections of her extraordinariness was the evening they went looking for a lost calf, narrowing their search to the steeply sloping canyon walls. Night was falling fast. Getting around prickly gorse, negotiating poison ivy, stepping clear of treacherous slippery scree  is hard enough in daytime. A moonless night wasn't going to help any, especially since they hadn't thought they'd need flashlights.

Soon it was inky black. He could barely see his hand in front of his face. Not seeing the path anymore, almost totally blind in the darkness, instinctively he followed her, now just a fleeting shadow ahead, reaching where she reached, stepping where she stepped. She never wavered, pressing on - firmly, confidently - her feet never missing a step, her heart never missing a beat.

"She can see in the pitch dark" he realized, drenched in amazement, "and it's not with her eyes.".

In her massive expansive acreage he reduced all his actions to simple service, wanting only to provide support so she could continue being who she is. That was enough for him: just to let her be.

She had him clear brush from the banks of the river, making a deck available at the edge of a naturally occurring swimming hole from which he removed rocks and boulders until it was six feet deep crystal clear babbling fresh mountain water. There she would luxuriate in the sun on warm days, alone in the forest, sitting on a simple beach towel, adorned with an elegant Yves Saint-Laurent  plain white sheen bikini, a thin gold chain clasping her left ankle, another with a one carat sheer diamond Tiffany  pendant around her neck. She would sit there with nothing going on, complete and serene, listening to the river and the birds of the forest, watching leaves slowly drift down to the forest floor.

Every so often, unasked, he'd bring a glass of iced tea, not knowing if she'd be there or not. Whether she accepted it or not wasn't important to him. What he really wanted was just to come and be near her. He wanted only for the chance to serve her in her natural environment.

He was never uncomfortable on the occasions she required he work, away from his usual milieu  of pastures, paddocks and stables, in or around her palatial yet tasteful stately stone ranch house. He was from a poor yet dignified background. It was never clear to him how she acquired her fabulous wealth. Yet he wasn't phased by it at all. She didn't seem to focus on money. Her conversations weren't peppered with business strategies. He hardly ever saw her with ledgers and journals. She had neither the hunger  for material possessions nor the drive  to succeed that he associated with other land barons in the area. She never seemed to struggle and effort to add to her vast portfolio of land tracts and properties. Yet it continuously expanded, as if all by itself.

What he realized about her, one of the things which fascinated him the most about the rarefied financial stratosphere in which she lived, is she didn't appear to do anything at all  to garner such riches. Rather, riches seemed attracted to her. In her case, acquisitions weren't a matter of savvy, of spotting a good deal  then capitalizing on it. In her case, acquisitions were a simple matter of magnetism:  money was attracted to her. Money just seemed to want to be around her. Obligingly she allowed it to.

The few shirts he possessed were always hand washed and proudly ironed. He owned only two pairs of Levis. Both were fraying at the knee. No matter how hard he scrubbed, the mud from herding cows was too ingrained in their hems above his boots to ever wash away. Yet he, living on the breadline in self‑determined elegance and integrity, and she, living opulently beyond belief for most human beings, were equals with regard to their neutrality about money. It was the unspoken glance between them. He liked that about her. She respected him for it.

One evening after he secured the cows and the horses for the night, he sat outside his cottage on a rickety wicker chair. He'd built a campfire, not for warmth - simply for the elemental ritual of it. Ceremoniously piling sticks into a cone, the lighting of it with strike anywhere  matches, and the shapes and faces dancing and playing in the embers and smoke touched his core in a place where he had no thoughts. There he sat, languidly drawing on a thin cheroot of black tobacco, relaxed in the gathering gloom.

The snap of a twig caught his attention interrupting his reverie. He turned in its direction. There she stood - silently, a few feet away silhouetted in the dark, watching him, behind her a full golden moon halo-ing her head, shining clear through her raw silk blouse.

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