Not that it has been terribly difficult or anything, but there are two answers to questions I’ve been getting used to giving. The first is “No, I’m actually a lot older than I look,” and the second is “I studied music in college.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first answer usually extracts some sort of puzzled or embarrassed stare, accompanied by (if it is a woman) “You’ll be thankful in twenty years.” To which I respond mentally, “Maybe, but men in my age bracket must assume I’m in middle school.” Whatever.

The second answer can actually encourage some interesting conversation. I’ve noticed that in this region of the country there is a great degree of open-mindedness about how you choose to use your college degree, if at all. Philosophy majors becoming sheep shearers. Professors of funeral services retiring to own fabric stores in tourist towns.

Yesterday evening I was with two guys I work with, and we had just finished riding heat on a herd of cattle for breeding purposes. Because our boss is in Alliance this week breeding for his brother, a breeder from another outfit was coming by to breed the three cattle that had come into heat yesterday morning. He arrived and within probably fifteen minutes had bred the cows. He’s efficient. I’d seen him around but hadn’t ever talked to him.

He peeled the shoulder-length, manure-covered glove off his left arm and threw it in the trash barrel, and put out his right hand. “I’m David.”

I smiled back. “I’m Laura.”

“Will you be around all summer?”

“On and off–It kind of depends on the hay crop, but I’ll be around here on and off this summer. I live pretty close.”

He nodded. “Going to school in Rapid?”

I laughed. “No, I’m actually quite a bit older than I look. I just graduated college.” I could have given him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he meant at the School of Mines–But last time I did the like, the person I was talking to became very confused later on.

“Oh–Okay. What did you study?”

I grinned, maybe a little sheepishly. “Music.”

“Music?” He shook with a laugh. “Boy, I bet you didn’t see much of this studying music.”

Men up to the shoulder inside a cow, all of us covered in dust, manure everywhere? You probably don’t even want to know what a CIDR is, and did you know that bull semen is kept frozen in nitrogen? You’d better wear gloves when handling it or you’ll get frostbite on your fingers. And what in the world is a gomer bull? I’d never herd of such a thing. Not studying music, that’s for sure!

David then launched into a conversation with Sean about how he got a little carried away on his four-wheeler chasing cows, and bowled one over twice. Cows are surprisingly resilient. Turns out you can drive a four-wheeler right over one and not even hurt it.

But the question remains: Music? I’ve wondered about my choices so far–Why did I pursue university studies for five and a half years, in music of all things, to then end up herding cattle and cutting fabric out in the Black Hills? Was it short-sightedness on my part? Were those five and a half years wasted?

Sure, I could be cynical and answer “yes” to those last questions. But I could also be faithful–While studying at the university, I believed God had put me there for a reason. Perhaps I’ll never know the answer, but whatever the reason was, he chose to open certain doors, provide certain financial support, and ordered circumstances that allowed me to develop a skill and talent that I really love. Do I want to pursue it full-time? No. Do I want to pursue it professionally? No. Was my time then wasted? Again, no. I was able to spend five and a half years pursuing the arts, music, singing, composition–What a privilege! That can never be taken away, regardless of how I use the slip of paper in the future. And now I’m herding cattle and cutting fabric in the place that is dearest to my heart of any place in the world, and I can honestly say I’ve never been more content. God is good.

God doesn’t always reveal to us the whys of our lives. Probably a good thing that he doesn’t. If he did, it wouldn’t take any faith to trust him.

Laura Elizabeth

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