The Donkey and I
Date: Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:53 am
Subject: The Donkey and I
Having now gone through weeks of Mr. Staudenmaier's
posts, I can't stop thinking of a slightly different version
of Prospero's words that goes like this: "Now his charms
are all overthrown, and what strength he has is his own, which
is most faint". Indeed. Maybe there are others out there
feeling like having a break from his magic performance, since
now we know his tricks too well to get enchanted or fooled by
them. So I decided to share this short personal story with you.
Consider it a friendly invitation to take a break from more serious
For years I've been bugged by this very nice
lady, a friend of mine, who is not very happy about my present
career choice. She takes every opportunity to express her disapproval,
frequently coming up with unrequested suggestions as to what
I should be doing, a subject that bores me to death since I have
no intention of using any of her so called "advice"
[advice (noun): a thing that, if it were any good, you wouldn't
get for free.]* I've been, therefore, trying for a long time
to find a way to gently tell her the polite and sophisticated
equivalent of "it's none of your business". And when
I remembered this tale I was very pleased, for it seemed to be
just what the doctor ordered:
A farmer decides he wants
to sell his donkey in the market, which is in a far away town.
Not wanting to leave his wife and young son alone, he sets on
the journey with them. They soon meet a man by the road, who
asks where they are going. Hearing the answer, he says: "The
market is very far. You have a healthy donkey with you, it's
silly to be walking when you could all be riding on it".
The farmer sees that this makes sense and follows the man's advice.
Not a hour goes by and they pass by another man, who laughs when
he learns the goal of their journey. "Yeah right!"
- he says, (or the equivalent of this expression at the time).
"The donkey is going to be exhausted when you get there,
carrying you all like this! Who's going to want to buy it, then?
Only the little boy, who is very light, should be riding on it!"
Seeing that the man had a point, the farmer puts the boy on the
donkey and procceeds walking with his wife. Just around the next
curve they meet some other fellow, who snides in a Peterly manner:
"Now if this is not a sign of the times. The strong young
one goes comfortably while his poor elderly parents have to walk.
How disgraceful. He should be walking and you and your wife should
be riding the donkey!" Seeing his point, the farmer follows
the man's advice. But it didn't take long for another busybody
to make his appearance: "You should be ashamed of yourselves,
you horrible parents, you! Riding on the donkey while this poor
child has to walk!" By then the man had enough and realised
that he would never be able to please everybody. Not only that,
but if he were to try, he would never get to the market. So he
would be better off doing just what he thought was right, independently
of what anybody else thought. The End.
Well, in remembering this story I thought
I had found the perfect vehicle to subtly tell my nosy friend
off. I daydreamed of a fancy dinner occasion with many guests
present, when at her first remark about my career - which would
certainly come - I would charmingly tell this lovely tale and
hopefully shut her up, forever keeping her from addressing the
Then today it hit me. I realised that I shouldn't
be telling this story to anybody else who bugged me, lest of
all my dear friend - the only one who needed to pay heed to it
was myself. It took me two years to see that.
If you want to sell your donkey, don't pay attention to the asses.
Don't be an ass yourself.
*From my own personal dictionary. If Mr. Staudenmaier
can have one, why can't I?
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