New Experiences

Matt - Harrisonburg, Virginia
Entered on March 3, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change

I believe in going away from your known environment, leaving your comfort

zone and experiencing life from different viewpoints. In my life I have gone places and

done things I never dreamed I would do. I did not particularly enjoy some of these

experiences at the time, but in retrospect I have found that these experiences have caused

me to grow as an individual and were times of adventure and personal challenge. One of

these times began two years ago when my father decided we would go to a working ranch

in Idaho. He was very excited about this, calling it “a once in a lifetime opportunity”, but

I was not so sure about it.

One of the major reasons that this experience impacted my life was learning to

know the ranch owner. He was a modern day cowboy with all the polish of the twenty-

first century and the determination, work ethic and character of cowboys of past

generations. Watching him conquer the challenge of an untrained horse displayed his

determination. When he mounted his horse, the horse immediately began to buck

and hurled him off slamming him into the hard dry dirt. It took several minutes

before he could get this horse to cooperate, but I could tell by the unyielding look on his

face that he was not about to let his horse get the best of him. On the trail we were on

the lookout for any signs of wolves. Wolves had been introduced back in to the wild in

this part of Idaho and they were encroaching the ranch and killing some of the calves.

He spoke passionately against the government’s attempt to integrate wolves into the wild.

Leaving my comfort zone really began when I was drafted to help brand the

calves. People from the ranching community volunteered to help. They lassoed the cattle

and dragged them over for branding. I grabbed their back legs and held them down

while the rancher took a hot iron and seared their flesh with a red hot brand. I can still

smell the flesh burning and hear the calves yelling.

Through this trip I learned some things about myself and about others. It made

me a more tolerant person concerning life styles that do not appeal to me and people who

choose to live differently from the norm. It also helped me to learn the value of doing

things that seemed uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone. In the future when I find

myself in unfamiliar ground, I will be more prepared for the challenges of doing the

unknown.