Life Lessons From a Mechanical Bull

English: Gator Conley on mechanical bull, inve...
Not the bull I saw, but I loved this picture! Photographed in 2007 at G’s Ice House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, I didn’t ride the bull. What are you, crazy? I have a marathon this weekend and I would be way too embarrassed to tell people that I couldn’t run because I fell off a taurian hunk of metal in a identity-confused bar in an aging tourist town with its own character issues. No, thank you.

This is me sitting on a non-bullish seat. Notice the lack of movement.

But, let me back up a bit. I went with a group of friends to Helen, GA this past weekend for Oktoberfest and to celebrate some birthdays. Helen is 1/3 kitschy Bavarian-themed village, 1/3 mountain country town, 1/3 biker bar, and 100% touristy. It has some of the best people watching outside of California, especially during October with its combination of Oktoberfest and Halloween.

This guy sits motionless until someone drops in a tip. Then, he strums his ukulale. Nothing ever moves but his fingers. Creepy.

Back to the bull.  I used to see those things (real and mechanized)  all the time when I lived in San Antonio. I think they were a requirement in any venue over a certain size. I haven’t seen one in quite a while and I was surprised to find two mechanical bulls newly installed in a bar that catered to heavy-metal bikers just last year. I guess the cowboy-hat wearing set pay better. I watched patrons try their hand at riding the bulls. Most were thrown off in seconds. Then, partly to encourage participation and partly for the joy of it, the guy running the ride got on. Watching him was a completely different experience. This guy could ride. Now, I’m sure some of the talent came from the wearing of the cowboy hat, but I learned some other lessons from him as well.

Also in Helen. I bet this bird felt like he was riding a mechanical bull!

Look Forward

The launched riders had a tendency to leave their gaze where they had been rather than look ahead. The talented guy kept his eyes looking straight ahead, even though straight ahead kept changing.

Don’t Fight the Motion

The more rigid a rider, the sooner the bull would send them flying. In order to stay on, the riders had to move with the bull rather than fight against its bucking.

Balance

This word is stalking me.:) The unschooled folks grabbed onto the rope tightly with both hands. This left their body free to swing wildly too far to each side. Our guy? He left one hand free to act as a ballast that balanced his body’s movements. Pretty smart.

Have Fun

After all, isn’t that what it’s all about!

 

Now, I really have no desire to ever ride a mechanical bull (I know, I know. Shameful for a Texan.) but I happen to think these four lessons apply themselves rather well to life in general. Oh, and I would add one more for me personally: Bagpipes make better party music than polka. Just sayin.

The view from the cabin – a peaceful contrast to town.

Thinking of all of you in Sandy’s path. Hoping you stay as warm and dry as possible and that this storm doesn’t take you for a wild bull ride.

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