Today, I would like to share you a short story that my cross country coach shared with the team.
One day, a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered anyway, so it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They each grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.
At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. They were going to bury him alive in the well! Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down at the well and was astonished at what he saw.
With every shovel full of dirt that hit its back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take another step up for each shovel load dumped onto him. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!
So that’s the story. Pretty smart donkey, wasn’t he? Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of people as smart as this donkey. For if they were to fall into a hole, let me tell you the first thing they’ll do and keep on doing: they’ll cry. Now, don’t take this literally, but figuratively.
The donkey falling into the well/hole signifies a person falling into a crisis. Sometimes, the well is really deep and seems impossible to climb up; in other words, sometimes the crisis seems too unmanageable and looks like it’s impossible to solve it. The first reaction of many people is to mourn this crisis. Similarly, the donkey also mourned the situation.
But here’s the difference: whereas many people (maybe even me) would continue on crying during a seemingly unsolvable crisis, this donkey was smart. He stopped crying. Let’s continue on with our analysis.
The dirt the neighbors are shoveling upon him signifies the hardships and the taunts people are going to dump on you. For many people, they might just endure these taunts and be buried in it. But for the donkey, he decided to shake the dirt off and use it as a stepping stone out of the well. Symbolically, we must take the taunts and hardships and shake them off. Then we must let each and every one of our troubles be a stepping stone out of our crisis.
Do you get the pattern now? The donkey and how he reacts to his situation is symbolic of a person and how he should react to a crisis. We have to suck our hardships up and use it as a way out of our crisis. This is what the donkey literally did, but unfortunately, not many people are actually doing what this donkey did.
So the basic lesson is that we have to learn from this donkey. Kind of ironic given that donkeys are stereotypical of stupidity, but either way, we have to learn how to turn our troubles to our advantage to step out of our crisis. For every mistake we make, we must learn from it. And just like the donkey amazed the farmer and his neighbors, so will one be able to amaze the people around him once he applies this lesson. In fact, you could say the farmer and his neighbors symbolically represent the people who doubt you in the first place. So prove them wrong.
And also react like the donkey. Instead of crying there for the rest of your life, deal with the dirt. Don’t let the dirt bury you. Don’t give up. See this dirt as opportunity rather than punishment.
Overall, I like this story; simple and short tale with a simple and sweet lesson. Hopefully, you enjoyed it too.