A lone drifter, age unknown, rides into Lakeside, California, with his three mules. He says they wander the country, guided only by the love of the Earth and its creatures. The man goes by the name “Mule” and allows his mules to lead him.
The mules live off the land but Mule makes trips to the store for provisions. Having done this for 29 years, Mule knows all about living outside. He says he considers himself and his three mules “outsiders” in the sense that we (us, not him) live indoors. Mule and his mules, on the other hand, live “outside.”
Like the pioneers of old, he packs his mules, one of which he says has traveled with him for over 25 years. Walking from town to town, they search not for gold or silver or fame but for the land that connects with the three mules and himself. He talks about the day at hand, how it is unique and not the same as the next day or the day before.
Mule and his three mules have found that Lakeside is a good place; they feel connected to the environment within the El Monte Valley and so have decided to stay awhile, no telling how long. Mule is in no hurry. He lets the land be his guide. He says there are others like him and that someday there will be many more that will live with mules.
“There are too many who are taking from the Earth and not giving anything,“ he says. Many will become tired and fed up with the web man has weaved and so will leave it all behind to be on the outside.
Mule’s face is darkened and wrinkled by the sun. He’s soft-spoken as he tells his story: “We are mules. We are from the outside. We live outside all day, every day. Where are we going? Nowhere. We’re here — the outside, the web of life — a beautiful place like no other. We have come to this place — a place of golden, sparkling light, a place for anybody and everybody.... As you walk in this place with these mules you spread the awareness that this beautiful Earth like no other can only be protected by the way we live one day at a time.“
As my friend Pami and I left Mule, we couldn’t help but feel that the life we all live is in vain, obscured by vanity, lust, and greed. We have lost touch with the real world we have been given.