Everybody loves the wild burros in and around Oatman, AZ. Those burros have practically free reign of the town, are given controlled and regulated diets, and can always find shade from the summer sun. They are also lavished with affection from tourist kids. People drive to little, out-of-the-way, Oatman just to see the town’s burros.
That is not my life. I am a “real” wild burro. I live in the wilderness of the Black Mountains of Arizona between US95 and the Colorado River, below Hoover Dam and near Willow Beach.
No one goes out of their way to look for me. Oh, every once in a while, a construction truck or a car will pass by the cave I spend time in when I can. The people in the car may snap my picture, maybe wave…but that’s all; well, maybe they will talk to me using baby talk. No special treats for me to eat unless sloppy campers do not clean up after themselves.
Then, there are the wild burros in the adoption centers, like the big adoption center outside Ridgecrest, CA. Fed daily, lots of interaction with other burros and even wild horses (though I doubt the horses can ever get a word in since we burros are so vocal), and the potential for adoption (about 400 animals a year are adopted) to make some family happy.
Again, that is not my life.
I used to be bitter about my life and how it turned out. After all, I was told that members of my pedigree worked at some of the most famous of the nearby mines. I am not bitter any more.
As I have gotten older (I’m 40), the bitterness dissolved. I realized that I am my own jack. I don’t chose to live at the mercy of any human or anything else. I make my own life. If I want to feel the breeze off the river, I am free to walk over the hill and feel the breeze on my ears. If I want to feel the sun on my back, I am free to walk out in the open and bake.
I make my own life and I chose to face the risks that come with the life I make. Do I worry about starvation or being fodder for drunk kids with hunting rifles? Of course, but facing these threats remind me I am alive and must take care of myself. Spending 14 hours a day foraging for food strengthens me far more than would eating out of a trough and small-talking with other animals.
Its weird, I once heard these two construction workers speaking with each other and one said to the other something insightful that the care-free burros in Oatman and corrals at adoption centers should think more about:
What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can’t stand still. It must grow or perish.*
* From Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.