Attitude Makes the Difference (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

When I started this article I made a deal with myself not to preach, but today is Easter Sunday and the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. To me it’s the greatest story ever told and everything I stand for and believe in is based on this. It’s this understanding that makes life worth living – no matter what’s happening.

Whenever I’m asked to speak or preach it may seem that I’m stepping on toes, but like with this article I’m usually talking to myself. Continually I try to keep myself positive, especially, like now, when things aren’t happening they way I want them to.

I would like for people to be able to say about me what they say about the champ, Clay O’Brien Cooper. When you see him you don’t know if he’s winning the world or hasn’t won anything in six months – because he’s always the same.

A friend once asked me what it took to rodeo professionally. For over two hours I told him all the negative things from the financial end, the mental pressure, the responsibilities to sponsors, having good horses, and on and on. Then I told him that what it takes is to know all these things and still when you back in the corner you think, “I love this and this pressure.” I think that’s when he went home.

Everyone that does this for a living has their own way of dealing with the ups and downs of this business. The other day I roped a calf, walked back to my horse and before the six seconds was up, I repeated out loud to myself a quote from my friend, Shawn McMullen, “Stran – if it ain’t happening now, it ain’t happening yet.”

Recently I was asked who my hero was. I’m a huge sports buff and enjoy watching almost all sports. While I have the greatest admiration for these athletes I wouldn’t really call any of them my hero. Then I thought about my mom, dad and brother, all who I truly admire and respect, but knew that wasn’t what the person asking had in mind.

Finally, it dawned on me and I answered, “Tom.”

Tom is a friend of mine in Childress. Tom is forty-eight years old and lives in a nursing home because of his illness. Tom has myoclonic seizures and is confined to a wheel chair. He’s had this illness since high school and there’s no cure for it.

Tom teaches Sunday school and his favorite thing to do all day is rope the dummy. Here’s a man that’s forty years younger than anyone else where he lives. It would be easy for someone in this situation to feel sorry for themselves and endlessly ask, “Why me?”

I always go visit Tom with the intention of making him feel better and invariably it’s just the opposite. The entire time, Tom makes me feel like the biggest blessing and by the time I head home, I’m ten feet tall. It’s hard to imagine him never having a bad day, but if he does, you’ll never know it. Tom has a better attitude and outlook than anyone else I know. While the rest us are moaning and groaning about the calf we’ve drawn, or how deep the mud is, Tom’s having a great day no matter what.