I have always been a lover of nature, relishing the vastness of the vast, open prairie. Those who know me are well aware of my affinity for animals, yet I still find so much wonder in observing things like bison grazing and brilliant bluebirds soaring in the sky. Last week, I was blessed with the unique opportunity to exchange my Texan home for an Austrian one in order to better connect with some newfound freedom.
Having never been to Austria, I was enamored – the rolling meadows, the dazzling mountainscapes, and the eerie tranquility of the skyline. There's a clear appreciation for an unencumbered life here – a life of slow decisions and delicate freedoms – and I felt an oddly deep resonance with its people and their traditions.
On my first day, one of the locals suggested I visit a nearby Austrian forest. I hadn't set such an ambitious plan for the day so I thought it best to explore – I had no idea what adventures I was about to embark on. I took a narrow, slovenly path through brambles of blackberry bushes, softening my stride and embracing my senses with the waft of juniper and cedar trees. There was a curious feeling — a subtle joy, I felt in the air — when suddenly, I was startled by a bull howling up ahead.
It was a large, unmistakably Austrian specimen — only young and completely strange to me. I had no experience with such beasts; I was almost afraid to approach. Yet here he was, snorting and stomping at me in a way that felt kind of endearing. I felt an immediate kinship with him, and as I approached, he seemed to nod in recognition.
Without warning, he began to embark on the path I had just arrived on, and I followed, confident in my newfound companion. We galloped through the forest and into a wide meadow, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this land. There was a surreal peace and an understanding between us – we were free to explore, to roam, together. I allowed myself and the bull to forget my Texan home and, in that moment, I felt something new – a deep reverence for the Austrian wilderness and its valued freedoms.
As the sun began to set, I slowly returned the bull to its owner, giving him one last pat and nodding in recognition once more. Although I had only been in Austria for a few days, these adventures will stay with me forever – a reminder to personally savor new freedoms and to envision possibilities, however inconceivable, to be found.
Until next time, Cowboy Jack.