Hanna Ranch is a documentary about one of the first eco-cowboys, Kirk Hanna, who owned a ranch in southern Colorado and used holistic ranch management practices before that phrase had a following. He also worked to bring environmentalists and cattlemen together to create a common dialogue.
Hanna was a charismatic cowboy, with his keen intellect and Tom-Selleck looks. His vision was 15 years ahead of its time, as it often is with those who model new stories of what could be. It was, too, a heavy burden, despite the fact that Hanna wouldn’t give up on it.
But in the end, Hanna’s vision was too heavy for him to hold and early one morning, while his wife still slept, he went down to the river and took his life.
Hanna’s story reminds me what it means to be a hero, and to have a quest and face dragons and live with the possibility that you may not come out alive. By his life and death, Hanna showed that the path of the hero is not an easy one, and there is the potential for death, both real and symbolic.
The hero is offered two paths when he hears the call to adventure. He can answer the call and go on the journey as Hanna did, aware of the responsibility to his call and the dark forces that may visit him.
He can also refuse to answer the call and stay safe at home. But if he does, the passion that would have fueled that quest will dissipate and eventually disappear altogether. He will die anyway, slowly and symbolically, with his gift—and contribution to the world—still in him.
Hanna chose the hero’s path. His tragic ending was a reminder of the courage it takes to walk that path, and the uncertainty of its outcome.
Photo credit: Hanna Ranch