Livin’ and learnin’ with cowboys and crayons |

Livin’ and learnin’ with cowboys and crayons

April E. Clark
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
April in Glenwood

Some weeks I pack so many life lessons into my daily routine, I feel like I’m back in school – complete with the pre-first-day-of-school nightmares about missing the bus and showing up for tests naked.

Luckily I never actually experienced the latter.

We never stop learning, even after college loans have been paid off and careers have been developed. Many of the life lessons I learned in college – both in and out of the classroom – apply now. We all know not to wait until the last minute. But I still find myself falling for procrastination like he’s a cowboy in a pressed shirt and tight Wranglers.

Pam Houston, I’m with you on that one, sister.

I should know that hard liquor and hurt feelings should never be mixed. Throw in a cowboy moving through town who had me at “Hey darling, would you want to dance?” and there’s a recipe for a Carbondale Molotov Cocktail.

Heavy on the tequila and tears.

When cowboys make you cry, sometimes it’s best to move on and start all over like it’s the first day of school. It’s time to put on a pretty new school dress and break out the untouched crayon box where all the colors I need are at my fingertips.

Ironically, I always kept my crayons neat and organized, as they came in the box. And I always colored in the lines, wanting my pictures to be perfect. If life is really like a page in a coloring book, I’m not sure staying in the lines is necessarily the way to go.

Depends on how many cowboys named for a Disney character I meet in this life.

Coloring inside the lines is how we’re trained from the start, but maybe that’s not always for everyone. Perfection is achievable, just look at Barbie. She has it all – she’s even been an astronaut and a ballerina. But at what cost? Would I always have to live in a bubble where everyone is looking in, wishing they had perfect measurements and a dream house with a pink Corvette in the driveway?

I’d rather be Skipper.

If I were the younger, less attractive sister I could just pal around with my friends all day. I wouldn’t have to worry if Ken was out with the boys again, flashing his baby blues and running his stiff fingers though his gold locks of hair to impress the other dolls at the club. See, perfect isn’t always so perfect.

That’s what the pink midlife-crisis Corvette is for.

If I can take away a lesson a day this “school” year, maybe I won’t need the pink Corvette to take away the insecurities of not living a perfect life. If I can just learn from my every mistake – and every success – I will come out smarter than when I graduated from college. One lesson I have learned is never fall so hard you can’t pick yourself back up. This applies to skiing, tap dancing and biking.

And, most important of all, dating.

Another lesson is to trust no one and trust everyone. This may sound irrational, or could be the plot of a Matt Damon movie. I have been known to be quite the trusting soul, believing others, even strangers, have my heart in mind. That can get me into trouble and cause such tequila-and-tears scenarios. My friend Billy Bob reassured me, though.

“You probably aren’t the only girl who cried at the Pour House after a Thursday night rodeo,” he said.

Words have never been so true.

I never want to be the kind of soul that’s distrustful, though, hence the “trust everyone” part of that life lesson. I like that I have an innate sense of love for my fellow human beings and that I believe people are really honest and good.

We all color out of the lines sometimes – and trust me, I’ve colored out of the lines with the best of them – so who am I to judge? We all live and learn. If I find that balance of trust, I’ll have learned the most important lesson of all.

Maybe cowboys and pink Corvettes aren’t so bad after all.

April E. Clark hopes people can find someone to talk to whenever life seems impossible. It works for her, especially at the American Legion. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@

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