I’m a country girl, born and raised on a cattle ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska; so though I spend my term-times attending art school in London, England, I’m home for the summer to be a hired hand in the bucolic bliss of grassy prairies. Having been asked to contribute my thoughts on creativity, I’ve been mulling it over as I go about my ranch duties. Recently, a parabolic illustration of a simple yet significant life concept dawned on me. I suppose not many readers will have experienced the agonies and ecstasies of moving cows. Here, it is a frequent undertaking. The other morning I was out rounding up a large, choppy pasture; the cattle were scattered (as my dad says) “from heck to breakfast”.
There are few things more frustrating than trying to round up stupid cows. You get behind them to push in the right direction and ask politely, pointing the way; they keep eating. You command; they chew their cud. Beg, implore, threaten; they turn their head and gawk. Whoop and holler like a lunatic and take a run at them, arms flailing; you get one of three instinctive reactions: They jump, run two steps then stop dead in their tracks, turning to stare at you like you’re a screwball, balking; they freak and split, running (often in a circular pattern) in as many directions as possible; or they start a slow and steady plod down the nearest path of least resistance. Getting each cow and calf individually started, until you have the flow of a herd that others can easily join, is a chore.
Moving cows often reminds me of the creative journey, and life in general. Because I believe in God- trusting that He guides me, seeing a bigger picture and better plans for my life than I have the vision for- I often smile sheepishly and think of Him when I’m frustrated with cows. If they would just trust me and MOVE, I could so easily steer them in the right direction! There’s greener grass, fresher water, and new territory to explore just through that gate, but you have to WALK in order for me to guide you to it! Once they get moving they’re easy to navigate; but when all they can do is freeze, stare suspiciously, panic, balk, beller, and run back to the last “safe” place they can remember, it’s really difficult to get them to a better place! How often do I act like a scaredy-cow?
The same goes for creativity. You’re comfortable doing your daily routine- eating, sleeping and pooping- when the cowboy comes along out of the blue… an idea. An inspiration! A new project. A new goal. You’re heart starts to beat a little faster, and as thoughts race through your mind you have to make a choice. Freeze- immobilized by fear of the unknown, distrust, discomfort, uncertainty and doubts. Pay it no heed, chewing your cud- “I’ll hire it done”, “I don’t feel like it”, “meh; takes too much energy”. Freak- run around in circles, dizzy and disoriented, buying all the junk for your new project but never actually doing it, forgetting the simplicity of the cowboy’s motive and directive. OR you take a step… then you take another… and another. Before you know it, you’ve got a good pace going and you realize how easily you’re being maneuvered through rough, unknown terrain, prickly soapweeds and steep side trails, just by putting one foot in front of the other. Pretty soon you crest a hill, the new, fresh pasture just ahead; and you can make the final, yippee-skippee! dash through the gate, plunging into the green grass of your victorious trust and steady steps. It didn’t have to be so difficult after all.
On the same cattle drive this concept was occurring to me, I had to laugh at one particular calf. Each calf has a numbered ear tag which corresponds to its mother’s, so we know which calf belongs to which cow. This calf’s tag read only “GBut” (which stands for “Green Button”, which the mother still had in her ear, though she had lost her numbered tag). He was the most frightful, chary, obstinate little bugger, and I had to force him every step of the way- retrieving him when he’d run back, and shooing him forward when he’d stop to look behind us and bawl. He just didn’t trust that his mom was in the group and that I was taking them to a better place! GBut. Ha! How many times do I treat creativity like that?! Gee, but… I’m not good at that. Gee, but… I don’t have time. I’m too stupid, too tired, too busy, too poor, too old, too fat (who would have thought weight and age would have any relation to doing creative things, but they’re amazing- the misgivings and imaginary impediments that go through our minds- aren’t they??!).
Who bloody cares?! Just move. Seriously, just mooove! (Pun intended.) You’ll be amazed by where that idea will lead you. If you stay where you are, in your comfort and cud with “GBut” as your identity, you’ll slowly run out of grass and water and you’ll die. In life and in creativity, it’s best to take steps (even if it’s a slow plod), letting the Creator and creativity itself steer you to verdant pastures ahead. Like Rick Joyner says, “It’s easier to steer a moving car than one sitting still.”
So just move it!
You can follow Tiffany’s ranch and London adventures on Instagram: @tiffanyjmoreland.