Lessons from Gus

Lonesome Dove is one of my favorite movies.  It’s in my top five for sure, right up there with Gone With the Wind and Pulp Fiction. 

If you’ve never seen Lonesome Dove, rent it sometime—someday when you have about 5 hours to spare.  Augustus McCrae is an endearing character who, in my opinion, makes the movie.  If I’m ever on the Miss America stage and I am asked who I would invite to a dinner party if I could invite anyone (real or fictional, past or present), my answer would be Augustus McCrae.  A matter of fact, I love Augustus so much, if our baby-to-be had been a boy, we were seriously thinking of naming him Gus.  True story.

Augustus McCrae

In Lonesome Dove, Gus is an older man who’s lived his life chasing bandits and killing Indians.  He’s a former Texas Ranger, tougher than most men, but never hasty to use it.  He’s loves women, but only 2 have really ever stolen his heart.  He’s a philosopher, a bit on the lazy side, and a biscuit lover, who doesn’t mind kicking a pig ever now and then.  In short, one of the greatest characters ever. 

In the story, there’s a prostitue name Lorie who wants badly to go to San Franciso to start a new life.  In one scene in particular, the man who’s promised to take her away has run off, and she is crying to Gus about wanting to get to San Franciso. 

He gives her these words of advice:

“Lorie darlin’, life in San Francisco, you see, is still just life. If you want any one thing too badly, it’s likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.”

As many times as I’ve watched this movie, and as many times as I’ve seen this scene where right after saying these words, Gus starts stripping down to his long underwear, I really have never paid much attention to his words.  Until the other day. It was as if I were hearing them for the first time.  I rewound the movie and heard them again, and then rewound it again, just to hear them again.

So often we find ourselves wanting a different life.  Or maybe it’s just me.  But I’ll catch myself at times comparing my life to others, and then getting the case of  the “If only’s”.  If only this.  Or if only that.   Just like Lorie Darlin’ who thinks her life would be the berries if only she could get to San Francisco. 

It’s the whole, “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality isn’t it? 

“The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things….”

In this season of Thanksgiving, many people are posting daily what they are thankful for.  It’s easy at first.  We’re thankful for our faith.  We’re thankful for our family.  We’re thankful for our health.  But what of the little everyday things?

Today my husband made me a latte, like he does every morning.  As close to Starbucks as one can get.  And then he made me breakfast, like he does most mornings when he has time.  Perhaps he’s cooking breakfast because he has to eat too, but he thinks of me  just the same.  Those are the little everyday things that I take forgranted.

Each day, I receive no less than 21 hugs from second graders.  Perhaps they’re hugging me because I grab them and force them to hug me back, but there’s maybe one or two who offer it first.  How many hugs did you get today?  I hope at least one.

I’ve got this little baby wallering around in my belly.  And even though my back is beginning to ache at the end of each day, the little kicks and punches remind of a loving God and promise of hope and a future.  Who knew that a kick and a punch could bring a feeling of alrightness to my world. 

I pray you each have a beautiful holiday season, and may our thankfulness not be for one day when we stuff turkey down our throats, but for each day that we are given. 

May we learn to like the little everyday things, everyday.


The Grass is Greener