Postpone the Pain: Paying off Old Karma (Rodeo Fever Example)

Rodeo, fever or otherwise, was not on my mind. Old karma payoff never occurred to me. Pain postponement would be great, or better yet, avoidance altogether–which is not really possible once karma has been incurred as payment always comes due sooner or later.

Instead, I was a bit on the steamed side. After five years and two months of swollen lymph nodes throughout my body and trying numerous protocols to fix the problem permanently, I’d been hugely encouraged for the past several months. Dietary changes, plus possibly the antibiotics used to combat more than a month of flu and/or head cold symptoms involving at least two different bugs, had resulted in massive lymph node reduction. Overall, the swelling was down by a good ninety percent. The improvement seemed to have hit yet another plateau, the third such since November 2017 (this being mid-March 2018), but still.

And then a large and painful cluster suddenly burst into bloom under my left jaw. Gr-r-r!

This particular “new bloom” was particularly troublesome in two ways: It was sensitive (painful to the touch), which none of the others had ever been, and worst of all, it was impossible to hide. Not pretty. Not pretty at all. It drove me bonkers. My nose and left eye were still running, at least when congestion wasn’t ruling the day. My energy and weight were both down, the latter having once again dropped under 150 lbs. (My “ideal” weight runs anywhere between 160 and 165 lbs.) I quickly became, in a word, cranky. Not so much around others, but internally. Bed rest was the only semi-comfortable possibility, with my eyes closed and the runny side pressed firmly into the pillow; I felt okay. Mostly. So, with fierce determination and intense need, I focused on finding the answer once and for all, most likely through the dream state.

Two days later, I had my answer: This was old rodeo karma, carried forward from my eight years in the arena long ago, karma created during the years 1959-1966.

Some readers may scratch or shake their heads, concluding Ghost has gone ’round the bend this time, but nonetheless, here’s how I figured it out:

1. This morning, in one lengthy dream I was my present age (74) yet deciding in no uncertain terms to get back in the game despite a 48 year absence from the rodeo arena. Not only that, but I’d be contending in both of my old events, saddle bronc riding and bull riding, never mind that by the end of my “real life” career I was specializing on the bulls only.

2. When writing that dream down, I suddenly remembered a forgotten fragment in which I’d taken advantage of a public urinal–only to discover a leak in the piping which squirted my own stuff right back out through the hole in the pipe and onto my left arm, thoroughly yellow-soaking a good portion of my shirt’s left sleeve…which of course just “happened” to be my riding arm, since I always rode left-handed. This told me rather firmly that I was “pissing on myself” emotionally and probably subconsciously as well.

3. These two “dream bits” reminded me that the previous night I’d dreamed–unpleasantly–of an old rodeo acquaintance who, unlike the vast majority of such, had not been particularly trustworthy. This man was a truly talented cowboy but less than ethical in certain social details. He wasn’t “all bad” by a long shot, but trusting him near either your woman or your money would teach you a lesson you’d never forget.

And that’s when it hit me. I’d been asking the Dream Master for assistance, needing to understand my illness(es) and particularly the lymph node issues. Two nights running of “rodeo dreams” pulled it all together. I was paying off old rodeo karma–and hopefully, realizing I was doing so might mean I was nearing the end of it. At any rate, my irritation vanished like morning fog under a blazing sun. It all made sense.

How so?

Let me count the ways:

1. Apparently, I’d still harbored a bit of resentment toward the “slightly crooked” cowboy who’d ended up with a fair bit of my cash in his pocket at one time or another. The first dream brought that to the surface where I could finally be free of it.

2. In 1966, near the end of my career as such (not counting two bulls I got on in 1970, the latter of which resulted in busted ribs and a collapsed lung, not to mention a visit from one of the Dark Angels of Death), I drew a bull called Rattler at a rodeo in Hamilton, Montana. Rattler was huge, weighing a good ton (2,000 lbs.) or more. He didn’t do anything fancy, no spinning or anything like that…but he didn’t need to. The sheer power of the animal was absolutely amazing. On the third or fourth jump out of the chute, that power shot my feet straight back and up into the air. I came down off his right side, hand still in the bull rope–though I did not hang up that time, thankfully. On the way down, my left jaw met his right horn on the way up. –CRACK!– It didn’t break my jaw, though it should have. It didn’t knock me out, though it came close; the world did go bright for a bit. I got to my feet, shaking my head.

From his position at the catch pen gate, big John Reynolds called out, “That’s Rattler, Fred!”

“Yeah! I see that!”

I’d hit Rattler’s horn precisely where the newly swollen and somewhat painful lymph node cluster had popped up.

Meaningless coincidence? You can conclude that if you like. As for me, I don’t believe in coincidence.

Pondering all of this led me to consider other rodeo experiences that came both before and after Rattler. Quite a few seemed significant, but we’ll stick to two examples:

–The bull that stepped on my right groin at a college rodeo in Utah, where I now have both a hernia that needs repair and a swollen lymph node that scares the doctors too much for them to consider doing the required surgery on the hernia.

–The many times when money was short enough on the rodeo circuit that food was practically an afterthought and nutrition wasn’t even in my vocabulary. A cheeseburger with fries and a Coke was heaven on earth back then. For two days at one rodeo in Billings, I had nothing to eat but dime popsicles, not exactly the strength building diet prescribed for a professional athlete competing in a dangerous sport against National Finals bulls. Also, a carny at Billings successfully picked my pocket but left the empty wallet in a restroom where it was found and turned into Lost and Found, driver’s license and Social Security card intact; there’d been no money in there for him to take.

Wait a second, thinks me. I abused my body nutritionally as well? Why, yes. Yes. I most certainly did. Well, then. Might not some of this “postponed karma” explain the recent need to drastically revamp my diet, practically starting over from scratch? And again, yes. Yes, it very well might.

Students of reincarnation and karma (of which I am one) understand that karma is often–not always, but often–postponed for repayment at some future date. That date may extend into future months, years, or even multiple lifetimes, but it always comes due sooner or later. Postpone the pain? Why not? At the time, it seems like a mighty fine idea; who wants to hurt more right now than is absolutely necessary? People who think that way are called masochists, right?

Note: Postpone the Pain is the title of a country song by Mark Chesnutt. It’s one of my favorites. Part of the lyrics run like this:

Trying to postpone the pain
Stay in from the rain
Buy a little time
Keep you off my brain…

Mark is singing about trying to avoid thinking about a lost love…which is exactly what I’d been doing for the past 48 years. And then I remembered an even earlier dream from just two nights ago. I’d jumped off a bus in remote country, one of the remaining passengers yelling out scornfully to the driver, “Where’d you find that guy?!” Which wouldn’t have meant much to me except that I’d made the leap in what was known as the “Fever Lake” area. I failed to interpret it at the time, but now it was obvious: Rodeo Fever. Discussing it with my wife, I found we agreed completely: It even made sense that this new awareness (paying off old rodeo karma, pain that had been postponed, finally freeing me of my past) had to happen here, in Deer Lodge, Montana, specifically. Deer Lodge is less than an hour down the road from where I grew up on the ranch with every hero (or heroine) I ever knew personally being a bronc rider or more: Slim Plummer, son of Virginia City’s Sheriff Henry Plummer and my best friend when I was six; Slim never owned a car, only a horse. My own Dad, who never competed in rodeos but could ride anything with hair on it. Fanny Steele, renowned lady bronc rider, Rodeo Hall of Fame. Oral Zumwalt, top contestant and (by the time I was big enough to meet him) top rodeo producer (stock contractor), Rodeo Hall of Fame in both categories. Deb Copenhaver, Rodeo Hall of Fame saddle bronc rider whom I never met personally, but he was a neighbor from just up the road at Ovando, where we hope to build a dream home someday. The Reynolds brothers, John and Ben, with younger brother Ben having won the World Champion All Around Cowboy title at one point. Again, Rodeo Hall of Fame for Ben, though it was big John who was my secret idol. Ronnie “Punch” Rossen, twice World Champion Bull Rider, Rodeo Hall of Fame. The list goes on.

Sure, I had other secret heroes. In basketball, Bob Cousy for one–but I never met Cousy. Writers such as Jack London, Ernest Thompson Seton, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Victor Hugo–but I never met any of them, either. I knew all the rodeo folks personally, or at least had met them and watched them compete, in some cases competing against them.

Bottom line, it’s no wonder it took decades for such a deep rooted cycle to run its course…and it’s no surprise about Deer Lodge, either. This is the town where my first wife, Vicky, grew up. We lived here for a time, no more than half a mile from where Pam and I now reside. More than that, Vicky was present to witness the majority of my arena triumphs, including all but one of my most outstanding rides as well as plenty of wrecks.

But I ramble. It’s time to close this out for now. Even so, I did not decide to publish this post simply as a means of catharsis–though it is most certainly that. More importantly, maybe, just maybe, a reader or two will eyeball this page and think, “Hm, I wonder if such-and-such in my life could be the simple repayment of postponed karma?”

It’s good to make people think.