Ya pick him up, ya lick him down
And bounce right back!
What a hard man Fe dead
Hard man Fe dead.
– Prince Buster
The story is told of a man who had a donkey. For many years the donkey served him tirelessly. Trudging patiently back and forth between field and home each and every day; travailing to the marketplace under many hot suns and over many rocky paths, hampers laden with produce, never sick, never refusing to work, it followed its master’s behest year after year with faultless loyalty that one can only find in a donkey.
When the donkey became too old to work, the ungrateful man decided he was going to bury the donkey.
So he dug a hole in the field and put the donkey in this hole. Then he started shovelling dirt onto the donkey.
But as he shovelled dirt onto the donkey, the donkey shook it off and stamped on it.
The man kept pouring more dirt on the donkey, and each time the donkey did the same thing:
Shook off the dirt, and stamped it down some more.
The man realised that the donkey was not being covered as fast as he liked, so he decided to increase the amount of dirt. Soon, he was piling it in onto this stubborn donkey who was taking just too long to die.
And then he noticed something. The donkey was no longer in the hole. As a matter of fact, there was no hole.
Now, looking him squarely in the eye was the dumb donkey that he had spent the last hour trying to put down.
Turns out that each time the donkey had shaken off the dust, he had stamped it until eventually he had made himself an elevation. The more dust the man threw at him, the higher and faster Donkey rose.
Unbeknownst to the dumb man, all along he was giving the street-smart beast a platform to leverage himself.
What lessons can we learn from this story?
We all have something in us akin to the street-smartness and hardiness of this donkey in my story. We all have some inner strength and resilience, but we often short-circuit those life hacks when we stop believing in ourselves and instead internalise the negative chatter that we allow other people to plug us into.
Some of us have served the people we love with loyalty. In return they have thrown dirt on us, some even scheming to bury us. Eventually if you let them, these dirt-throwers will smother, clog, and eventually destroy your self-worth and self confidence, your hopes and even your pipe dreams.
But like Donkey, you can shake it off, stamp on it and elevate. Change the dirt into a platform from which you elevate yourself: find a new lease on life, stop speaking in a whisper and start making your voice heard.
Dumb ass or no, you’ve got a butt and a kick in your arsenal. Start standing up for yourself, cause nobody is gonna do that for you. Becoming a roaring dragon if the enemy hold around you is the Great Wall of China. Find your inner beast and move through that wall to find your freedom.
Emerge from that hole that friend, that husband, that wife, that parent, that doctor, that community, that church member, that co-worker, employer or trusted partner has thrown you into, thinking you were gonna lie down and die.
Emerge from the ashes like a Phoenix with your chin high, eyes bright, your fiercest, most beatific donkey smile, and make it known that you may be a ‘donkey’, but you have 99 lives! And a kick and a butt for anyone who wants to test it.
And remember what my countryman Prince Buster says, ‘you a hard man fe dead’.