something quieter

From “The Professor,” by Lydia Davis:

More important than the clothes a cowboy wore, and the way he wore them, was the fact that a cowboy probably wouldn’t know much more than he had to. He would think about his work, and about his family, if he had one, and about having a good time, and not much else. I was tired of so much thinking, which was what I did most in those days. I did other things, but I went on thinking while I did them. I might feel something, but I would think about what I was feeling at the same time. I even had to think about what I was thinking and wonder why I was thinking it. When I had the idea of marrying a cowboy I imagined that maybe a cowboy would help me stop thinking so much.

I also imagined, though I was probably wrong about this, too, that a cowboy wouldn’t be like anyone I knew — like an old Communist, or a member of a steering committee, a writer of letters to the newspaper, a faculty wife serving tea at a student tea, a professor reading proofs with a sharp pencil and asking everyone to be quiet. I thought that when my mind, always so busy, always going around in circles, always having an idea and then an idea about an idea, reaching out to his mind, it would meet something quieter, that there would be more blanks, more open spaces, that some of what he had in his mind might be the sky, clouds, hilltops, and then other concrete things like ropes, saddles, horsehair, the smell of horses and cattle, motor oil, calluses, grease, fences, gullies, dry streambeds, lame cows, stillborn calves, freak calves, veterinarians’ visits, treatments, inoculations. I imagined this even though I knew that some of the things I liked that might be in his mind, like the saddles, the saddle sores, the horsehair, and the horses themselves, weren’t often a part of the life of a cowboy anymore.

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