Gryph (on Finehorn) and Sea (on Jesse James) rode into the El Dorado Hot Springs in Tonopah on Saturday night, celebrating 5 months on the trail as the Free Range Rodeo. It’s been an amazing 5 month Journey, full of blessings and lessons and more than our fair share of sunny days (we’ve ridden in 1 1/2 days of rain this whole time!) and now we have come to a fork in the road.
When we left the Apple Farm we were talking a lot about “living the question” (Rilke) – and the questions we were living as a part of the Journey. “What is it like to live with/as the herd?” was one of the questions we were eager to inhabit. “Where will we sleep and how will we feed the ponies?” was another question high up in our minds. But deeper down and late at night there were other questions, “Who am I going to have to become in order to live this life?” and “Why are we Really doing this?” I was very clear that while I have wanted to cross the country on horseback since I was a child, that this Journey is the major dream of my life, the one I never outgrew, the fantasy that’s haunted every period of discontent – while I know that this is what my soul is called to do – I have no idea WHY.
Over the past 5 months, as I’ve grown into this life and this Journey, I’ve often had the feeling that this is what I was designed for: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. It’s a strange feeling, and a good one. This trip has not all been easy. Last week we had to camp out in the desert in a wind storm with gusty 50mph winds. We tucked the hay for the ponies into the greasewood bushes, put everything we could into our drybags (which also keep dust out!) crawled into our sleeping bags, rolled up in tarps and waited for morning. We even slept some. In the morning we had sand in our mouths, in our eyes and noses and ears, in our sleeping bags and clothes – it had permeated everything permeable. And I still sat there thinking: it sure beats an hour and a half commute each way every day to a desk job. But that’s just me. And nobody’s life is made up only of good bits. I have a feeling like I’m growing into myself through this Journey – and that’s probably part of the point.
Another part is something that I hadn’t really pondered much ahead of time – which is the effect this trip has been having on others we’ve encountered along the way. I think a part of me didn’t really believe that we were going to get away with this – I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t at least try – but I more than half believed that some authority figure would come along and put a stop to things. Oh me of little faith. And the very fact that we Are succeeding at doing something like this, in 2012, without a corporate sponsor (or a whole lot of money saved up) is inspiring – not only to us, but to plenty of other people who are in various stages of living their own dreams. I heard on the ‘phone the other day from a woman we’d met during the first month of the Journey who said she was still following the blog and how she keeps being amazed at how many nice people we’re meeting, and how many great experiences we’ve had – because she had really feared for our safety and figured we’d have all sorts of problems with bad people along the way. One of the blessings of this Journey is finding that by daring to live out my dream, I’m encouraging other people to do the same. It’s pretty cool to be experiencing that “theory” – live!
Which brings us to the deep thoughts engendered by our recent desert crossings and the dreams of Gryphon. Gryph has decided that it’s time to pursue her own dream of performing. She’s heading to Boulder to find a trainer and start rehearsing for the September auditions for Cirque du Soleil. I saw Gryph practicing Aerial Silk Dancing last summer, and she’s amazing. She’s also got a lot of hard work ahead of her in the next 5 months! It’s hard to imagine this Journey without Gryph – this past 5 months would have been a lot harder without her partnership. But at this point I have gained the confidence to go on alone – and she’s gained the confidence to follow her own dream. Blessings on the Journey. (It somehow seems totally appropriate that if she’s leaving the Rodeo it’s to join the Cirque.)
The hardest part of this decision has been the realization that I can’t keep the herd together if I’m going solo. I’ll continue riding Jesse James, Finehorn will continue in her preferred role of stalwart pack pony – and it’s looking like Daisy will be heading up to join my cousin Susie in Redding. But Cowgirl needs to find a new situation. She’s served us well – kept her cool through traffic and barking dogs, freight trains and narrow mountain trails – we’ve ridden her, packed her, ponied off of her, forded rivers and crossed the Mojave. We’re sad to see her go – but we do need to find a new home for her – ASAP. If you’re interested or know someone who might be, please be in touch (contact information is on the “daily update” page). Thank You!