You can learn a lot from a mule

Published 7:38 am Monday, July 21, 2003

By By Brian Giles publisher
I once heard a story told at some time as I grew up. I can't remember when, where or who told the story. Anyway, the story I am referring to is the parable of the old mule. A lot of you have probably heard the story before. The story has taken new meaning to me over the past couple of years. I have thought of this parable many times when I was dealing with the stresses of life and somehow it always gives me comfort.
I am going to make an effort to tell the story and maybe, if memory serves me I won't lose too much of the meaning.
The parable is about an old farmer who owned an old broken- down mule. One night after a hard days work the mule wandered out of the pasture looking for a drink of water. The mule stumbled in the darkness and accidentally fell into an open well. The farmer heard all of the commotion and jumped out of bed and followed the sounds of his braying companion. To the farmer's dismay, he found his mule down about 25 feet in the bottom of the well.
The old farmer was crushed. How would he get his work done on the farm without the help of his old friend? Times had been tough and the farmer could not afford to have the mule removed from the well. By this time it was getting close to lunch and the mule had not moved in a couple of hours. The old farmer consulted with his neighbors and finally came to the only decision he felt he had. The farmer decided that not knowing if his mule was injured and given the age of the old mule, that he must bury him.
By afternoon some neighbors of the old farmer arrived to help haul the dirt to bury the mule. The neighbors gathered up all of their shovels and began removing dirt from the pasture and loading it on a wagon to fill up the well. As they began to shovel the dirt into the well, they could see the dirt piling up beside the mule. The mule suddenly popped up and became hysterical. When the dirt hit his back, he jumped to his feet and hopped up on the small pile of dirt the farmer and his friends had put in the well. Like a bolt from the blue it hit that old mule that every time that shovel load of dirt hit his back, he must shake it off and step up. That old mule did just that, shovel load after shovel load. Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up.
And if you haven't guessed it by now that old mule eventually walked right out of that well. He was a little worse for wear, but nonetheless he was still alive and kicking.
What seemed like would bury him actually blessed him. The mule handled the adversity the best way he knew how and survived the ordeal.
Just like that old mule, life sometimes dumps stress on us. Whether it is relating to your job or your personal life, remember three things. First, deal with stressful situations the best you can. Try to do what is right and leave the situation knowing that you did the best that you could do. Second, remember that which does not kill you will make you stronger. Learn from your adversity. Those problems that seemed as if they were going to bury you usually have within them the potential to benefit and bless you. And finally third, when life dumps more and more on you, shake it off and step up.
Brian Giles is publisher of the Atmore Advance and may be reached at 368-2123.

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