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Snug Chaps and Meditation Mats

by Meredith Hardwick

Cowboy hat and boots


Meredith studies Geography, which suits her on the road lifestyle. Originally from West Texas, Meredith has worked as a horse wrangler and trainer as well as a recreational mountaineer. Currently, she lives in Lander, Wyoming where she writes for NOLS Alumni Magazine.


So what do normal people do when they break off their everlasting on and off again, long distance, miserable and seemingly meant to be relationships? Start going to group meditations -- in the heart of Texas oil and gas, capitalism-run metropolitan area full of total frat bros and women who achieved their MRS degrees, yet seem to be in a life-long graduate program to stay thin and never wrinkle?

Meeting who I thought was the perfect guy for me at the dude ranch I so dearly obsess about year-round making conversational references to at any given opportunity seemed to be a patsy cline dream come true. Well, turns out there was a little more crazy tucked in those snug chaps and wrangler jeans. Sure, the vegetarian cowboy with a kick-ass and ear-awakening taste in music has insecurity and emotional attachment issues, but all of these things are quickly forgotten making love on a weekend backpacking trip in Grand Teton national park. I mean come on, that’s just dreamy.

After trying to manipulate each other into submission, and attempting to shove the other off a cliff in the name of deep love and connection, I decided it was just an irresistible attraction that was bound to put me on more anti-depressants than love born highs. Agonizing as it was to hear my lover say so many hurtful things to me, I realized that I could still love him and not believe a goddamn thing his ridiculous ego thought of as loving constructive criticism. This realization was brought on by many gut feelings ignored until the last time I saw this back rub demanding son of a gun. As I left his house planning to meet up in a few weeks at my friend's wedding where he would be my date, it dawned on me that I would be resolved to introduce him to my friends as “ This is my lover, yes, we have sex when we are conveniently not fantasizing about ripping each others' heads off.”

So after making the decision to make an end to all ends, I had a physical heartbreak that inspired a complete cleansing and grounding reconnection with everything I had lost. Meditation seemed like a good place to start. I have been a slight yogini for a few years, but had meddled with meditation long enough to learn I am somewhat of a narcoleptic.

Group meditation seemed like a good way to clear my head by having company to keep me awake. My first few meditations were relaxing, although I spend a good 15-30 minutes trying not to sing merle haggard and gram parson songs in my head, but for about five minutes I get a nice clear mind with solemn breath and peace.

Peace is quickly broken by my fellow meditation attendee Mike with presence as demanding as a hyena spitting random left-wing Buddhist philosopher hooplah that even the most involved lama would find annoying. Casual encounters at the local intellectual coffee shop were enough to put the idea in my head that this kind of extremism just didn’t jive with me.

The next few times I encountered this conversation-Nazi Mike, I tried to go with the banter and converse through it, but this was impossible. He began trying to woo me by informing me he could get me a yoga teaching position. I almost pined for the completely-oppressive lover I once had, nostalgically dreaming of talking shit about people like the ones I was now interacting with. Mike soon informed me he was not of planet earth, or so says his astrologist, as if everyone has a personal astrologist. Jesus. I'm all hands on deck for strange and curious encounters, but if this kind of fleeting insanity is not just tidal waves in the storms of my early twenties.

Then I think I may as well jump in.


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