I grew up in Sacramento, California and when my family would take day trips to San Francisco, we often explored new areas of the city. Once, we happened to stumble upon the bison paddock in the Golden Gate Park. I had never seen a land mammal so large or so magnificent. After that day, my family would make point to visit the bison paddock whenever we could on our adventures through San Francisco. I remember when I was 15, I would peer through the chain link fence, quietly watching them.
I started to study the bison and found that they have qualities and characteristics I wanted to develop within myself. During my research, I found that the American Bison was called “buffalo” because early European settlers thought they appeared similar to the European buffalo and African buffalo. Although the American bison and European and African buffalo are not the same mammal, colloquially, in America, the term buffalo has become largely synonymous with bison. The following notable qualities have shaped my approach in personal life and business.
One aspect of the buffalo I identified to be so profound is their loyalty. The females and young migrate together. I want to be that way, first, loyal to family and friends and second, I want to truly know who the people are that support and celebrate me. The lesson here is to know who supports you and know who you support.
The second attribute of the buffalo that interested me was their hair. It’s matted down and often it appears as though they don’t groom themselves. To me, I understood that to mean they are comfortable in their own skin. I thought about what it means to be comfortable in my own skin. And, I am - I like myself and love myself exactly as I am. Each day, I work to inspire people to be comfortable in their own skin, to like themselves and to love themselves.
The third attribute highlights their speed. They can run up to 35 miles per hour for short distances. Their stature could seem incongruous with what people may assume about their speed. In this way, I considered if when we judge people based on their outer appearance, we could miss out or be surprised by their skill, talent and brilliance! I choose to be open to experiencing the brilliance in people from all walks of life and appearances. In fact, one aspect of this idea that I enjoy most is actively creating space for people to be their most authentic selves.
The fourth way in which the buffalo inspires me is that it has been said that when a storm is coming, they move toward the storm because they know it is the quickest way through it. They don’t run away, like cows do. They face the storm head on. In the spirit of this idea, I run toward my storms, with my closest confidants by my side, open to brilliance along the way, comfortable and confident in my own skin, while bringing out the best in myself and others.
Why is the buffalo pink? I believe all of us are unique; no two people are exactly alike. And, just how we have never seen a pink buffalo in the wild, we may never meet someone exactly like someone else. It’s a reminder to be yourself!
These are my philosophies in life and I’m thankful for all of the buffaloes I’ve met along the way and the buffaloes I have yet to meet.
THE STORY OF THE PINK BUFFALO
by Piper Ruiz