“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (2018) and the moment of falling in love

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) is a collection of six stories set in the Old West, by the incomparable Joel and Ethan Cohen.  If you have followed them enough to know if you’re on their wavelength (it is as singular as Tarantino or Spike Lee), you’ll know whether this means you should check it out.


Personally, I couldn’t wait to show it to my wife Tananarive, and we had a heck of a rollicking good time.  The very definition of “elevated genre,” they specialize in the “you have NO idea where this is going to go” as they deal with gunfighters, bank robbers, pioneers, gold prospectors and travelin’ shows in a way you just ain’t seen afore, pardner.


Wonderful, violent, heartbreaking, funny, and BEAUTIFULLY shot, if you have Netflix you could do one heck of a lot worse with ninety minutes.




(slight spoilers ahead)


One of the stories is applicable to our investigation of love and loneliness, the path of the Soulmate.  IN the segment ‘The Gal Who Got Rattled”, Alice Longabaugh (Zoe Kazan) is a woman traveling in a wagon train a new life in Oregon .   Things go badly, and she bears up under tragedy with great spirit and a broken heart. But in the deepest moment of despair…she is asked for her hand in marriage by a kind, handsome  guide, Billy Knapp (Bill Heck).


And…we believe in their connection.   She is unmarried and lonely (I won’t say more than that) and needs protection and support.  He is a cowboy who sees his boss grown old and alone on the trail, and doesn’t want that for himself.  They are two people with need, their strengths and weaknesses in balance.  And…they reach out to each other and there is that moment, that magical moment when you can see the light go on in each of their eyes.


You are attractive. You find ME attractive?  We are both available?


Something magical happens in these moments.     It is not merely “love” it is the possibility of a future together.  Life.  Love. Passion. Hope.  Faith.  A home, built together over the years. Sharing. Companionship. Watching Kazan and Knapp play their parts, beautifully, you see all the   yearning and astonishment play out in their faces.


I still remember the moment I realized that there has to be a balance between two people, or there cannot be a relationship.  A lioness needs a lion.  They can be equal, or complementary, but both have to see the connection, feel that balance.


The moment I realized that my wife and I felt that…it was astonishing.  A “sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you” moment.  A blessing to both of us.


This moment of magic can be found best by mature, autonomous adults who are already complete in their needs…but want more, want that magic SOMEONE to pass through life with.    Friend. Lover.  Helpmate.  This is so precious.  And the first step is to heal the wounds that stop you from being a friend to yourself. From loving yourself. From connecting with your strength and drive.


If that has been the missing element for you, the good news is that you can make that connection now, today.  By visualizing and connecting with your own heart and “root” survival instincts, we can clear out the negative familial or social programming, the negative experiences, that stop us from being simple instinctual creatures with intellect and spiritual potential.


And I give Thanks every day for the fact that we always have this wisdom within us, and by triggering it, and loving ourselves, we open the doors to finding that special partner.


Happy Thanksgiving



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