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The Cool Grandpa Podcast

Apr 5, 2024

He was a man to ride the river with. A long time ago, someone could get no higher compliment than to be known as one to ride the river with. It seems that this phrase came about during the time of the frontiersmen and cowboys. When exactly, no one seems to know. It might have been during the early days of the Oregon Trail or soon after that. When it came to be, it doesn't matter, but it is a phrase that at once captures the imagination of a time long gone.

What I like about this phrase is that it conveys much information about a person when used. For example, if a group of cowboys was being pulled together to drive cattle north to the rail heads after the U.S. Civil War, having someone use that phrase to describe you might be all that was needed to get a very scarce job on a cattle drive.

Crossing a river with wagons, cattle, or horses is dangerous. There are many hazards in a river, from soft, muddy bottoms that could get a horse or cattle stuck to deceptively fast-moving currents that could float a wagon or push the livestock down the river, where they might drown. With these many hazards, someone with experience and a good head on their shoulders was of value to any group that had to travel far.

Unlike Tom Sawyer, who saw his funeral, we will not be so lucky to learn what our family and friends truly think of us. I think, therefore, we could use a phrase such as one to ride the river with as something to aspire to. This phrase encapsulates the idea that a person to ride the river with was dependable, knew a thing or two about navigating hazards, was honest, and would work well with others to complete the task.

While I will not dwell too long on my eventual demise, I will try to live or continue to live a life that when my time is over, I might earn the praise of one to ride the river with. I'll consider it a bonus if this or something like it is how my grandchildren talk about me and my influence on them and their families.

What phrases or thoughts, past or present, inspire you to keep going, learning, and trying to lead a good life? I want to learn more about what motivates you to be the best you can be.

If you enjoyed this podcast episode, please share it with your friends and family and discuss living up to an aspirational phrase or saying.


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