Once upon a time, Jim Bowie was a mortal man, or so the story goes. Since then, he’s become a “folk hero” which means that separating out truth and fiction is a little tough, and mot people don’t really want to do it, in the first place. Make no mistake, I’m talking about the legend, here. A little fact, a little fiction, and a whole lot of whisky and temper.
Bowie was one of the defenders at the Alamo. That would be Texas vs. Mexico, for those of you who are just tuning in on our International Channel. Bowie and the Texans were massively outnumbered, and more than that, Bowie was sick as a dog.
He was can’t-stand-up, confined to bed, crawling around the fort on his hands and knees sick. Yellow Fever? Cholera? Late stage cirrhosis of the liver? Whatever it was, Bowie was in bad shape to begin with, and winds up giving up command.
There’s a point in the siege when things go from bad to worse. It becomes very clear that the men who stay to defend the Alamo will die. The commander (whose name was Travis, by the way) calls the guys together, and tells them the situation is bad. He gives them the chance to leave while they can.
He draws a line in the sand, and tells the men to cross it, if they are willing to die with him for their cause.
Bowie demands to be carried over that line on his stretcher.
Legend has it, anyway, and plenty of good, sensible people will defend this truth, as if they were there, themselves.
And legend also says that when they found his body, he was propped up against a wall and out of ammo, with a knife in his hand, and surrounded by the many bodies of the enemy soldiers he had killed.
There are plenty of people out there who will use circumstances to explain why they didn’t fight for their goals. I’ve seen that. Sometimes, I do that.
I have friends who don’t. I have friends who amaze me, and keep me on point, and who inspire me.
New baby in the house? Three kids? Elderly parents? Health problems? Learned English at the age of 83 and wrote a book? Became a marathon runner, despite having only one leg, and retrograde amnesia?
No excuses. They do it, anyway. They play through the pain, they fight through it, and they become that person. The one you look at, and you’re amazed that they can do it, and stunned that they can do it that well.
They look at that line in the sand, and pull themselves over it. They’re in. Even if it looks like impossible odds, even if it is impossible odds. No excuses.
And suddenly, my excuses all look so much smaller. Ridiculously small, in fact. They start to look like the kind of things that someone who didn’t want to write a novel would say, not something that someone who can’t write a novel.
And I want to write a novel.
So, suddenly, I’m over the line, and all-in, too.