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Story, photos and video by Billy Ortiz    

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Like the pioneers of old, he packs his mules...walking from town to town searching not for gold or silver or fame, but for the land that connects his three mules and himself.

November 10, 2012 (Lakeside)--A lone drifter, age unknown, rides into Lakeside, California with only his thoughts and his three trusted mules. North and south, east and west, they wander the country. Guided only by the love of the earth and its creatures, the man who goes by the name Mule allows his trusted mules to lead him.

The animals 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 considers himself and his mules ‘outsiders‘ in the sense that we, (not him) live indoors. Mule and his three mules, on the other hand, live “outside.”

Like the pioneers of old he packs his mules, one of which he has traveled with for 25 plus years. Walking from town to town searching 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 each day is unique, and not the same as the next day or the day before.

"The walking creates an energy that is very creative," he says. With his mules he is connected to the ground; it’s magic. Mule and his three mules have found that Lakeside is a very good place, they feel connected to the environment within the El Monte Valley and so have decide to stay awhile; no telling how long.

Unlike insiders who live in a world of anxiety and hurry, Mule is in no rush. He lets the land be his guide. His connection is not of one to the Internet or Starbucks, but a connection of his feet planted firmly on the ground and with the flight of the dove or the bear roaming free or the call of the hawk, he is connected in a way many of us have never experienced but may have a longing for. He tells  me that there are others like him, but that someday there will be many more who will live with mules.

“There are too many who are taking from the earth and not giving anything back,” he observes. Many will become tired and fed up with the web man that has weaved and so will leave it all behind to be on the outside, he believes.

Mule is road worn and wise, his face darkened and wrinkled by the sun .  Soft-spoken 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. If you’re faithful of energy to this place at which time you connect to it, you’ll see the magic and endless possibility of infinity. 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."

Like Mule, I feel we all have a connection in one way or another to the earth, we live on it, touch it; we breath its air, we swim in its waters, but at the end of the day we go back to our cozy shelters. I admire Mule and his mules. I think most who have had the honor to cross the path with him feel the same way.

He is not a stranger. He is one with reality, the closest to the real life as one could get. I understand this man, I have a small connection with this land he is visiting. I too feel connected to the ground and all the creatures in it on it and above it.

As my friend, Pami, and I left him, we couldn’t help but feel that the life we all live is in vane, obscured by vanity, lust and greed. We have lost touch with the real world which we have been given.

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