It is a ridiculously hot day back in the 1800s, in the wild west of the Southwestern United States.
A lone cowboy is stumbling across the landscape, he is unarmed and has no horse, he often falls to the ground injured but still keeps dragging himself to his feet and carries on, not yet willing to release his grip on life.
After many miles, the cowboy slowly realises that his progress is being paced by a young tough looking Apache warrior astride his pony.
Realising this, the cowboy turns to him and drops to his knees, expecting at any moment the arrow that would end his suffering. The young warrior stops his pony and just watches the cowboy, and there they both sit, for what seems like hours, neither moving.
Eventually the cowboy tires of this game and drags himself to his feet, continuing his desperate march toward what he hopes is civilisation. As before, the young Apache keeps pace with him.
As the day wears on, the cowboy falls many more times, eventually he can stand no longer and is dragging himself along the ground.
Finally, all his strength is gone, but his will to live remains, he paws at the ground, trying to pull himself further forward. It is then he hears the sound of the warrior’s pony drawing closer.
Noiselessly, the Apache drops from his horse near the cowboy and approaches, crouching down to roll him over, with knife raised to strike.
The last thing the cowboy sees before unconsciousness is the eyes of the men he has always been taught to hate, the enemy…
Days later, the cowboy awakes, he is lying in a rough shelter by a river, his wounds have been treated and there is food and water near his shoulder ready for his awakening.
Weak and dizzy, he tries to survey his surroundings, confused as to what is going on.
Across from him is the same Apache warrior, he beckons to him to drink and to eat. It takes several days but finally the cowboy finds his strength returning.
The Apache then helps him up onto his own pony and walks him through the desert sun taking two more days of travel, when at last they come to a settlement. The Apache stands on the hill until the settlers have clearly seen him then slowly walks down into the village.
The people crowds forward eagerly to see the vicious enemy they had all been taught that the Apaches were, initially they assume he is a prisoner. Some of the men draw their guns.
The cowboy cries out for them to stop and in his haste, falls from the saddleless horse. To the shock of the crowd the Apache turns to him and picks him up and carries him further forward into the town.
An old man steps forward and asks the Apache what has happened, after the Apache responds, he looks at the cowboy and his treated injuries, and tells the settlers there is no danger and to go about their business.
The cowboy hands the horses reigns to the Apache, and the Apache leaves the settlement, the cowboy then asks the miner what he had said.
The miner tells him that the Apache has seen an injured and dying enemy, but that enemy clung to his life and would not surrender to the circling vultures or vicious heat.
His determination to survive earned the Apaches respect, even when he could no longer move, he still clung to and fought to retain that life.
The Apache could not let such courage die, so had gathered him up, brought him to water and treated his wounds, then when strong enough to travel (as he had seen), he had brought him back to his people.
The young warrior saw not an enemy that day, but a man not unlike himself that just wanted to survive, he would not rob a man of that right.
People and situations are not always what they seem.
Sometimes even enemies can become friends or allies, keep your heart and mind pure, do not let cultural, religious or political stereotypes and expectations colour your judgement, accept people as they are, not as you would want them to be and in business you will make partnerships with everyone without fear.
(From my February Newsletter - out next week)