How can I tell you my story without letting you know the main character? Would that be the sheriff, the little girl, or my grandson?
At the age of seventeen, our grandson entertained an interest in bull riding, Yes, I said bull riding. His grandfather and I had taken him with us to several rodeos when he was very young.
His main interest was the activity in the bull pens. There was always a place to stand behind the area where the contestants began their ride.Visible to us from our place in the grandstands, there was no need to wonder if he was okay. Closely watching the riders, his attention was riveted on their every move.
We shouldn’t have been surprised at his fairly unusual pursuit of the sport of bull-riding. Beginning in junior high school, interest was maintained in many sports including wrestling, weight lifting and football. Those were well known teen sports throughout the high-school years.
Nothing could keep him from attempting to become successful at the projects he decided to pursue. With personal determination and a plan for accomplishing the goals he set for himself, his dedication brought results.
We planned to be at every bull riding event in which he participated, but there was one in the northern part of our state which we were unable to attend.
Sometime after the event, a letter arrived for him from the sheriff in a northern Michigan community. In the letter, the sheriff was asking our grandson to consider sending him an autographed picture of himself. In explanation, he wrote that he was counseling an eleven year old girl who was having difficulty, as he explained it, in finding a good path to follow in her life.
The sheriff went on to write that during his counseling he had asked the girl if she had any heroes. She said yes. The girl then indicated our grandson, who she had seen riding in the rodeo in the northern part of our state, was her hero.
Think about it. The young girl must have indicated our grandson by name or there would have been no way for the sheriff to make this personal contact. Bull riding events are well attended and the grandstands are usually filled to capacity. There was no personal contact between the girl and our grandson.
This scenario amazed me. Being the grandmother I am, I didn’t miss an opportunity to offer a lecture on good behavior. “What do you suppose you were doing when she saw you?”, I asked. “You had no idea you were being watched other than when you were actually riding. Were you chatting with other riders, were you watching the activities?”
At bull riding events, the young riders I’ve noticed, are neatly dressed. Our grandson always pressed his shirts with a crease in the sleeves. (Only a Grandmother notices things like that, or so I thought.) He didn’t smoke, or drink or chew. Any of those things could be noticed by someone watching him at an event.
This time, a confused young girl was watching him and later counting him as her hero. He found a photo of himself, as the sheriff had asked, and penned a message on the back. In the message he indicated hope that she would find good paths for her life in the future.
Since this incident happened, and it was a long time ago, I’ve had many opportunities to think about people who may be watching you and me right now. What are they seeing? What are they hearing?
It would be unusual to be aware of someone observing our actions. We may never know when it’s happening. Are they noticing the way we’re dressed? Can they hear what we are saying? Have we influenced someone’s life? Did we make them wish they could be like us? Or, did they wish they would never be like us? Were we an influence for good? Do we present a pleasant space around ourselves?
Perhaps, in an off moment, we may convince someone never to act as we do. It’s quite possible something we’ve done, or said, or the way we have planned our lives, has influenced someone to change direction, or maybe to continue in a direction they’ve already chosen.
Someone is watching and listening to you and me right now. We will never know who it is or how our lives may have influenced them to direct their own life.
I’ve shared this story with many people over the past years. The incident has made a difference in how I see myself, Sometimes I hope no one is looking or hearing; other times I hope I made a good impression.
Who’s watching now?
Photos By Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck