Jumping Off to the Unknown

Part of my horoscope on my birthday this year read “Develop a way of handling the unexpected, as it will become a regular occurrence for you.”

But isn’t this true for everyone? The unexpected becomes expected, because change comes to all of us. Sometimes we seek the change, other times it is foisted upon us. But at some point, we all jump into the abyss of the unknown.

The pioneers called leaving the States for Oregon “jumping off.” Their jumping off points were typically Independence or St. Joseph, Missouri, where they left civilization as they knew it and headed into the unknown.

Most emigrants jumped off around mid-April. At this time of year, these frontier towns teemed with people and wagons and livestock. Prices surged as high as spring floods as families sought to provision themselves for the arduous journey ahead. Imagine the bustle and excitement of thousands of strangers converging on muddy streets and splintered boardwalks.

For those of us who live in the Midwest, think of the weather this time of year. Last Saturday we had thunderstorms and hail and more than 120 tornadoes across a wide swatch of what used to be the open prairie. Some years there are late snow storms in April.

Would you want to head out across the prairie with only a canvas wagon cover between you and the elements? The covers could get blown off by wind and shredded by hail. There were no warning sirens or National Weather Service to give notice.

Most of the emigrants walked, rather than riding in the wagon, to spare the mules or oxen. Would you want to walk through wet or snowy spring grasses? Wade across swollen spring creeks? Search for firewood dry enough to cook your meals?

The unknown will hit all of us. Some of our rigors are physical, some are mental or spiritual. What challenges can you anticipate? And how can you prepare yourself for the unexpected?

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  1. Beautiful blog site, Theresa. Lots of good posts and some writing ideas I’ll have to follow through on. Best of luck. I’m a follower now.

  2. I have a good friend who lives in Gardner, where one of the trails split, one to Oregon, the other to California. My friend says that illiterate people who couldn’t read, didn’t know which sign to follow, so they just stayed in Gardner!

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