The Donkey

February 2019

We were seated watching the girls at Njabini Girls School enjoy their snacks after the conclusion of The Choice Club meeting. I happened to look across the fence from the school and noticed two donkeys pulling a heavy load. These animals are referred to as ‘the beast of burden’ for a reason! They were pulling a cart of heavy laden with something that resembled sacks of potatoes. Their master was seated on top of the load, and every so often he would whip the donkeys trying to force them to walk faster. I felt sorry for the donkeys.

Once they got to their destination, which was a home next to the school, the master got off the cart and off-loaded the cargo with the help of a friend. Once they were done, the donkeys seemed to know the drill; they turned around and walked off in the direction from which they had come. I guessed they were walking back home. The donkeys did not care to wait for their master; he was still talking to his friend who had helped off-load the cargo. I lost sight of the donkeys and resumed watching the girls as they excitedly enjoyed the snacks we had provided.

On our way out of the school, we encountered the same donkeys on the road, still pulling the empty cart and briskly walking down the road. We had to drive around them. They honestly seemed to be in a conversation as they walked along, focused on going home. Their work was done for the day, and there was no need in hanging around doing nothing. They didn’t even stop on the road side to nibble grass; they walked on. As we continued watching these two animals, it got me thinking…

In life, we all have a path we are to follow.  We innately know what we should do, but we get distracted along the way- often getting angry at those people who try to stop us from achieving our goals. The donkeys have a master that overloads them, does not feed them as often as he should, and beats them unnecessarily, evident by the marks on their bodies. Still the donkeys do not get distracted from their path, neither do they fight back. They simply do their job, and when it’s done, they move on with their lives.

How wise we would be if we could all learn something from the donkey- to be resilient in hard times, cultivate humility, loyalty, endurance and above all taking the pain that is meant to destroy us and turning it around for good. The donkeys gave us a message for our ice breaker with the girls the next time we meet: “HOW DO YOU BEHAVE WHEN THE ODDS ARE AGAINST YOU?” The donkey is known to have very strong vicious kicks; it can easily kill a person with one single kick. Though it’s beaten and overburdened, rarely will you see a donkey trying to kick its way out of a situation. On the contrary, often as humans, we get weighed down by the cares of life, begin to lose hope and snap at anyone who comes our way. We lose family and friends because we become so bitter, fighting against even those that love us and have nothing to do with our pain. How wise we would be, if, like the donkey, we could just move on with life refusing to get distracted from the path, simply knowing to move forward and remain on our rightful track. And what do we do with those that do not appreciate us, those that whip us at every opportunity? How hard would it be to just leave them behind and continue with our life’s journey? After all, just because someone disagrees with us doesn’t mean either of us are wrong. Contrast brings clarity and compassion.

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