Robert LeRoy Parker was playing in his back yard one day, if you can imagine. It was a huge back yard by our current standards. Dusty. Rugged. Craggy. Utah has a way of making things look large, especially to a five year old kid, in the mid 1800s.
Yes. So, there was Bobby with his butt on the ground, pushing a pile of sticks, this way and that through the thick dirt. One stick was a horse. Another was a stage coach. That backyard dirt, right smack-dab there in Mormon Country.
Yes the Mormons had started to settle that place called Utah. In 1855, they began constructing roads, and homesteads, and little burbs. One such road was called the Mormon Road. It was mainly a winter commercial “wagon road” to California and Arizona. As it happened, Beaver was settled in 1856 by Mormon pioneers traveling this thoroughfare.
Bobby’s family happened to be one of those Mormon pioneer families. He was born there in Beaver, in 1866, but both of his parents came from England. And he was the oldest of 13 children. His Dad was Maximillian Parker. And his Mum was Ann Campbell Gillies. Proper English-Gone-Mormon Folks.
Bobby played. A kid with a big heart, and kindness to a fault. He looked up at the big blue wide-open sky. He had just fed the horses, and helped his father cut up a fallen tree for firewood. After, they sat down, and ate a slice of the best apple pie he had ever tasted. His Mum baked it that very morning. And for all their hard work, they savored that early treat, sitting outside on a log. His Dad went on to other chores. And Bobby was allowed to run off and play. It was one of the best days ever, for a boy on the Utah Plain.
Thirty-seven years later, Bobby laid on his back in Bolivia, looking up at another big blue sky. In San Vicente, of southern Bolivia, to be exact. His fingers reached down beside him and he grabbed a fistful of the very thick dirt. It felt cool and familiar. But it didn’t help the pain. He was bleeding to death. Riddled with bullet holes. He looked down and saw the blood moving out of his chest and abdomen. It was spilling out, all over his lucky shirt.
And that thick, soft dirt is what made him think of that afternoon, back in Beaver, Utah, when he was five. With his Mum. And his Dad.
No one called him Bobby anymore. These days, he was Butch. Butch Cassidy.
Then, a few moments later, he closed his eyes, never to open them again.
We never know how it will go. We never see so far ahead. Not even to venture a guess. As Max and his boy ate that pie, on that log, neither one of them could have predicted that Bobby would grow up to be one of the most notorious outlaws of all time. A bank robber, a train robber. A criminal of epic proportions. Or that he would die a violent death, at age 42. A young boy who started out in the halls of the Mormon church. Singing praises, and such. But his life took many leaps and bounds and turns and twists before it finally stopped.
Our worlds and lives change. Unforeseeable.
Predictable, maybe. But largely unknown.
Step out into the world today, into the unknown, and shape what you can with your heart. Do what’s right in front of you. That’s as far as we can see.
“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
― Albert Camus
“I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”
― François Rabelais
Life is a book and there are a thousand pages I have not yet read.”
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess