We can’t quite know our future. People try. They plan everything. Well, it sure seems like a lot of people try to plan for a lot of things. We are caught by surprises less and less often these days. For example, most people, when on holiday, know where they’ll sleep each night. This sometimes wisely prevents a certain amount of panic and frustration as one looks for a place to lay their head for the night as darkness closes in around them.
But what this constant control over our lives through planning everything out ahead of time does is prevent us from the growth of serendipity, stumbling in to opportunities and experiences we could not have planned if we had wanted to because we had simply not a priori ever known they existed or were possible.
I believe that by planning a little less, increasing our faith that things will work out, and finding our pluck, our lives will become greatly enriched. The more something is controlled the less you learn about yourself or the world around you.
My husband Bernie (B) has lived this philosophy for much of his life as he has traveled solo around the world in a small boat, crossed countries by bike and mule wagon and traipsed 3 times across this country on mule backs, almost never knowing his plan for the night ahead of time. I am newer to this philosophy, though I have traveled some distance on mules with Bernie spending the night wherever we were loosing the light and am eager to do much more.
Bernie has now been gone for 4 months from our farm. Four months ago when he was set to leave from our gate with mules Brick and Cracker was the last time I had seen him until 2 days ago. We are now reunited in the Sand Hills of Nebraska catching up with each other and resting the mules for a quick week before B continues on to Hailey, Idaho and I return a rented car to Rapid City and fly back home to my dog Snookie.
B has now spent 115 nights on the road this trip and has not had one night in which he had any trouble finding a place for him and the mules to stay.
Mostly it has been the generosity of American families that have provided his quarters. B has met so many nice people and families from all the 8 states he already crossed through on this trip. He has seen the different places and ways they all live, an experience he would have never had if he’d pre-planned his trip.
Our rendezvous in the Sand Hills has been the same. We agreed to meet up in the Sand Hills. I’d fly in to Rapid City and rent a car and come and find B and the mules in a little town called Hyannis, about a 4 hour drive from Rapid City. Other than knowing we’d give each other a massive hug upon our eyes meeting again, little was possible to envision how or where we’d spend our week together with the mules.
I brought only a small knapsack with me with a very thin sleeping bag folded up in it, a change of underwear, sweatshirt, a pair of shorts, a small stick of deodorant, my toothbrush plus a rain jacket. That was it because the ticket I purchased said I was only allowed one personal item 12” x 9” x 17”.
If I really thought about it though, for one week, what else would I really need anyway?
We could find a campground or someone’s yard to pitch the tent. We could stay in a little motel if we found a place close by to keep the mules. Or, possibly, if we were really lucky, find a cabin or bunk house on a nearby ranch where we could be with the mules for the week. The important thing for me was spending the week catching up with B and the mules.
What ended up lining up through serendipity was way beyond my wildest dreams, a charming cabin built from rail road ties on a lake with a picnic table out under a cotton wood tree. The cabin looks across a reedy lake at the town of Hyannis and among the first buildings you see looking toward the town is the Hebbert’s sale barn where the mules have found quarters in corral pens meant for Charolais bulls. They spend their days out eating the lush grass around the sale barn on their pickets then they go in to the corral pen, drink water at night and sleep safely inside the secure high panels of the corral.
As for us I found the first day of my vacation fulfilling an old dream of being a cowboy working cattle on big land under a wide open sky. It so happened that the couple B rented the cabin from are horse trainers and cattle ranchers. B and I were invited to help Seth Adam (cabin owner) and his brother Doug move and doctor cattle for the day on their family’s ranch. This day was a highlight I shall never forget, an unplanned gift of having faith in the power of serendipity.