It's a scorching afternoon in the desert. The wind is hot and merciless, carrying with it grains of sand just fine enough to peel the skin like sandpaper. The lone hero, who has rode for months upon horseback, with no home to go back to, lost the only woman he ever loved. She was shot down like a dog in front of his very eyes. The only thing that awaits him now is death by the guns of cattle rustlers who have been plaguing the village of poor farmers, far too poor to even offer a reward for his services.

"This sucks," he says, with a slight whine to his voice. "Man, I'm almost out of bullets, there's like...a hundred of them, only one of me... I've got a splitting headache, and the hemmorhoids are acting up again. How am I supposed to ride with a sore the size of a plum? I'm not even getting PAID for this! I've suffered enough. Screw it! I'm going home." And with that, he gave up, and rode off, leaving the village to be slaughtered by the cattle rustlers. The waterhole was poisoned, and on that day, the West was lost.


There is a reason this scene isn't in any Western. For the Cowboy of Legend, no pain is too great, no odds are too overwhelming, no enemy is too powerful, and no reward is too small. They might fear the outcome, but they accept it and embrace it with the solemn duty of a man doing the right thing, simply because it is the right thing to do.

Real cowboys, of course, were never like this. They were pretty much a combination of truck driver and shepherd, only instead of a truck, they rode a horse, and instead of a trailer, they had several dozen head of cattle. Still, Spaghetti Westerns have burned the image of John Wayne into our heads, and created it's own folklore mythos with one recurring theme:

Cowboy Up

What does it mean? Simply put, to "Cowboy Up" is to stop your bitching and procrastinating, and get to doing whatever it is you are supposed to do. When a coach tells you to "walk it off", when your father tells you to "be a man", when your boss tells you to "get back to work", when your friend tells you to "suck it up", all are essentially telling you the same thing:

Cowboy Up

It seems so simple to say. It's even easier for people to nod their head and agree. Still easier is making excuses why one can't. In a society gone soft, we have been taught how to do everything except Cowboy Up: Being overweight isn't your fault. It's a disease. Your child isn't an undisciplined brat, he has ADHD. Your work wasn't slipping, you got fired because of some backstabbing asshole. You were doing everything you could, but he cheated because all men are pigs. You were doing everything you could but she cheated because all women are sluts. You weren't breaking an important law, the government is just keeping you oppressed. This is called whining. Whining will accomplish absolutely nothing, except possibly irritate those around you. There is only one way to get over it, and move on with your life:

Cowboy Up

To do this, you will need to accomplish three things: Shutting Up, Standing Up, and Moving On. Complaining about it will not make you or anyone else feel better; it will only make you more bitter and show everyone your weakness. Laying in bed, or surfing the couch will not change the situation in the least; at best it will delay the problem long enough to become a far worse crisis that cannot be ignored. Finally, most problems cannot be faced by inaction; you will need to confront that which ails you. When the entirety of possibilities places Death (or Hell, if you're religious) at rock bottom, the result you face probably looks amusing in comparison. You can allow a real Hell to be created around you, or you can take charge of your life and do the obvious:

Cowboy Up.

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