A few weeks ago, I stopped my motorcycle near a creek to take a break. There was a donkey near the creek, and he started walking toward me. When I said, “Hi,” the donkey replied with, “Hay,” which blew me away. At first, I thought I was losing my mind. I was not sure if he was saying “hay” back to me or if he wanted hay. Now, this was not an ordinary donkey and he seemed pretty smart. While I was still in disbelief, the donkey looked at me and said, “Have you ever talked with a donkey before?” Quite extraordinary to say the least. I replied, “Donkeys don’t talk.” The donkey looked at me, amazed, and said he was a descendant from the talking donkey in the Bible. Then he smirked at me and asked me if I had ever seen Shrek. Still bewildered, I told him that I had heard of both, although I did not see the connection. Nonetheless, I asked him his name and he said he was not really sure because his owner never called him by a name. I asked him if I could call him Don and he nodded and said, “Yes, yes, I like that name.”
He asked me why I had stopped, and I told him that I needed a break and this seemed like a nice spot. He agreed and said it was his favorite spot in the pasture. We talked about what a wonderful day it was and about our travels. I told him I love to ride, and that I wanted to explore more of the country but I was having a hard time coming up with a place to go.
He told me he has the same issue because he wanted to head somewhere new and exciting, but he never really executes his plans because he is concerned about the boundaries that surrounded him. He said he knew how to get out of his fence but was concerned about work and the other donkeys. He also had responsibilities. He had grass to eat and used to help his owner plow the garden, but he had not done that in a while. He looked toward a barn and I saw a John Deer tractor parked there. I looked at him and told him, “You have been replaced.” Don said, “I guess I don’t have to worry about that anymore then.” He said he really had it good there. He had a barn, food and occasionally someone like me to talk to, but he still had a yearning to explore.
I thought for a minute and said, “I often feel like I was surrounded by some imaginary, geographical fence that was keeping me within some boundaries in life. I have a job, responsibilities, a house, family and those pesky bills.” These things are not unique to me because everyone has these boundaries, but only a few of us seem to be able to break past our own fences.
Unlike Don, most humans have other factors we have to worry about. We have to figure out those things like time, money and distance. We can usually figure out two of the three factors. Any one of these will quickly limit our ability to keep moving.
I often try to figure out how people do some of these journeys. I’ve met a few people who have been able to take some great trips. I met a young couple that sold everything and bought a couple of Vespa-like scooters and traveled around the world. It took them a year to complete their journey. When they returned home, they had to start life over. I met a couple of guys in Nebraska who had traveled all around the United States. They work for a school system and ride their bikes until they run out of time. They find a rental shed to store their bikes in. Then they fly home. When they get more time off, they fly back out and pick up their bikes and continue on. I’ve also met a couple of people who own their own businesses. As long as they had their laptop, they were able to run their business from anywhere. Nice!
Don explained to me that he really didn’t need to worry about anything like that. He just needed to get out of the gate, but admitted he was afraid of highways and cars. He said he wished he lived out west where he could travel for days without having to worry about traffic.
We soon realized that as nice as it was to talk, neither of us could really help the other with our problems. At that point, I asked myself, “What are you doing talking to a donkey anyway?” I went to my bike and grabbed him an apple and we said our goodbyes.
Of course, this experience keeps me thinking about Don because we both had the same desires but neither of us could figure out how to get past our own fences.
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