I See Cowboys and Therapy In Our Future
Reflective thoughts and a western horror short story.
Two Thoughts In Three-ish Minutes
I wanted to start today off with two reflective thoughts before I pass you into the world of western horror fiction.
Shattering The Looking Glass
According to Society in Focus the process of discovering the looking-glass self occurs in three steps:
An individual in a social situation imagines how they appear to others
That individual imagines others judgement of that appearance
The individual develops feelings and responds to perceived judgements
As a society whose reality is heavily influenced by social media, the idea of the looking glass makes all too much sense. We often create our identity based around what we think others might think. We want to beat them to the thought and then embody the thought so there are no surprises.
Basing Your Reality On Assumption
A favorite book of mine is The Four Agreements. I try to reread it every year. The best chapter is perhaps the one around assumptions.
Basically, Don Miguel Ruiz lets us know that living a life based on assumption (or the looking glass) creates a living hell for everyone one of us. And we do it everyday.
Humans have a need to explain and justify everything; we have a need for knowledge, and we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know. We don’t care whether the knowledge is true or not. Truth or fiction, we believe 100 percent in what we believe, and we go on believing it, because just having knowledge makes us feel safe.”
-Don Miguel Ruiz
One assumption that I used to build my reality on (in college) was that if I was “cooler” online than my life would get better. If I could wear the clothes that popular girls wore in their photos, document myself at the same parties, ect: I would feel cooler and thus become a “more important person” because I would be perceived like the people I thought were “cool.”
After a lot of reflective work I was able to mostly ditch that assumption about myself and stop caring about my image online in a “cool-girl-idyllic” way and instead start sharing things with others that I legitimately care about. (Mostly writing). My self image began to heal and I started to feel important to myself. Which is really the only thing I can actually control. Reality suddenly felt like my life and not some idea that I could attain through peering hard down a looking glass.
“When you can present the best version of yourself to yourself: physically, mentally, and spiritually: you stop caring who else is in the audience.”
-Me (in an older Substack post)
If our lives are not treated like something we can create but are instead treated like something that others perceive: we risk losing every opportunity for genuine connection. We cannot trust ourselves because we don’t think for ourselves. That’s not only dangerous, but extremely destructive for our own independence and free-will.
Basing Your Reality On Truth
Glennon Doyle once said something like: “If you don’t tell me we have a problem, then we don’t have a problem.” *Mic Drop*
This ideology frees us from emotional poison. If people don’t have the decency to communicate their real feelings to you as they’re happening and instead expect you to constantly bend to their unspoken assumptions: then that is not someone who adds value to your life. Honesty and clear communication foster real relationships.
The same goes for how you interact with those around you. Intentionality takes work, but it’s significantly less exhausting than making assumptions and tiptoeing around them as if they were already real. Funny that they’re usually not.
Success Is Something You Attract
I read this quote recently that hit different:
“Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development because success is something you attract by the person you become.”
We simply cannot bully ourselves into success. How badly you want to achieve your goals doesn’t matter if you’re not becoming a person who already embodies them. What if instead of trying to work fifteen hour days, you tried to heal your own esteem? Would that confidence make it easier to make business connections? Would you start to attract your success instead of constantly trying to stumble upon it?
How different would our lives look if we took this as truth everyday?
Don’t you spend your Saturdays writing fictional cowboy horror stories?
You don’t? You’re kidding.
The following is a fun short for a competition I entered via Globe Soup. The challenge was to write a fiction story from a predetermined “genre-smash” (like western-horror) that conveyed the topic of transformation in under 600 words and 48 hours. Game on right? Here’s what I came up with:
MapQuest | A Globe Soup Flash Competition
Men like to discover. Glory keeps frontiersmen thirsty. They need new hills to climb the way a body needs water. Men like that ride around here often.
I make sure they never leave.
People on the outside call my land The Atlas Alps. An under-discovered mountain range in Atlas, Nevada. Only accessible by horse, frontier celebrities are always attempting to be the one to take home the photo album. Because, right now, The Atlas Alps are nothing more than a rumor.
I’m making coffee when today’s outsider jumps the gate. My shotgun is already lying on the sofa. The sling goes around my shoulder and I’m off.
I never shoot to kill. Just to inform. I let a round into the air that says “Howdy.”
From far away, he looks like most of them: tall, rugged, white horse. Always a white horse. I ride closer before he draws his own gun. Once he sees that I’m a pretty young woman, he’ll disarm completely.
“You could’ve killed me, miss.”
“You’re on my land. You see the trespassing sign?”
“You live on the Atlas Alps then?”
“That’s not what we call ‘em.”
“You and your husband?”
“No husband. You another one of them Dora-Explorers?”
“You could say that.”
“Need a glass of hot tea? I’ll just give you a tour.”
And he agrees. Men need to discover. Might as well make it easy for ‘em.
The tea isn’t meant to kill. It’s meant to relax. He drinks it as the rain outside magically starts to pour. The horses are tied up under cover. He never thought to ask why there are so many of them on the land. White, just like his.
I’d read stories about Kit Carson and Jim Bridger. I always longed to explore. But, that blasted Mapquest had already beat me to it. The only place left for me to discover was The Atlas Alps. So that was that.
It’s not until now, sitting on Nellie’s couch with a tea in hand, I realize there might be a reason this land has gone unknown. It had been too easy. She’d been too inviting. Her eyes were silver, dead of any pigment. Something inhuman lurked behind them.
My brain is slowing, tongue going numb. I needed to get out of here without raising suspicion. Keep the conversation going.
“What do you do for a living Nellie?” I barely get the words out.
“That your passion?” I stand up from the couch to pace the perimeter of the room. Hand on my holstered gun.
“The land is my passion.” Nellie said. “Don’t you wanna see it?”
“My horse don’t like storms.”
“We’ve got feet.”
Nellie walks beside me with matted hair. I barely notice the rain. Come to think of it, I can’t feel anything at all.
We turn the canyon’s bend and horror comes into view. An acre of decaying flesh and skulls. Men buried with only their heads protruding out of the ground. Cowboy hats and sheriff caps still adorning their rotting heads. I took a step closer in disbelief. This wasn’t real. Could this be the tea playing tricks? Then I hear Nellie draw her shotgun.
“You’d better run, Finn.”
So I did. Faster than anyone ever has. But, the ground betrays me. The harder I pushed, the more it transformed underneath. Quicksand.
I went for my gun, but mud was already swallowing my hips.
“Some people don’t wanna be discovered.” Nellie calls out.
As the earth mutates into my eternal coffin, I realize Mapquest isn’t so bad after all.
HAHA. THE END!
Fun stuff right? We’ll know results in February for the contest, but either way: it was simply good fun to write.
In Other News….
YOU’VE BEEN SUMMONED
I got cover mockups today for YBS and I’m happy-crying. The designer I worked with is INCREDIBLE (and has likely designed some of your favorite book’s covers). So you’re to going to love it. I cannot wait to share this novel with you. It’s getting real. A few more months….
BOOKS BY SINC-STERS
Want to try an independent author? Here’s a few more new releases brought to you by my fellow Sisters In Crime:
Heroes of The Tundra Series by Laurie Wood
Blackout A Short Story by Camille Minichino
The Sheep Lady by Candace Hardy
HOA Mystery Series by Linda Lovely (Because who doesn’t think their HOA might eventually turn on and murder them?)
The Murder Blog by Sandra Gardner
I’m going to do a bookish holiday giveaway package on my Substack soon. If you entered last time and did not win, you’ll be entered twice this time. The included books are going to be so fun - you won’t want to miss!
THAT’S IT FOR TODAY FOLKS!
Thanks for reading as always. This Thanksgiving, I’m so grateful for you. Lots of love.