try to please… | he said

word art by Sarah Smith of PHOTOBIN PHOTOGRAPHY
cute donkey silhouette photo from:

Are you familiar with the story of the old man, the boy and the donkey? There is a VERY important lesson to be learned from it.

If you haven’t heard it before, here it is: A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them.

“Try to please all, and you will please none.”

I like the alternative way of declaring the lesson: try to please everyone and you can kiss your ass goodbye.

To me: it’s not about just pleasing ourselves all the time, or just pleasing our spouse all the time (although they aren’t wrong when they say “Happy wife. Happy life” or “Happy mama, happy home”), it’s about considering the wants of all, but not trying to please everyone.

I find that when I want to please everyone, one of 2 things happens.

  1. It’s a mishmash that just doesn’t work for anyone
  2. I freeze in indecision of how to make it all work and nothing happens

Well, that’s something I’ve been working on and know I will continue to for a long time.


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