Men don’t carry donkeys. Rather, men shouldn’t carry donkeys. It is not that donkeys have far too big jaws to be carried, or that they always look guilty-like they, and their offspring, deserve to bear burden all their natural life. It is simply that, since the beginning of time, men don’t carry donkeys. There’s a picture that comes to mind now. It’s a distant memory that’s coming to me like I saw it in another lifetime but one can, with good reason, call a childhood another lifetime. I can still see it hanging on that plain poorly lit wall. It’s actually a fading dusty caricature of a man carrying a donkey on his back. I can’t remember the house where this photo hang but I would go with one of my shags. I can’t remember, too, the caption on the photo but it must have been weighty. It certainly must have felt that way to the man. There’s a story that I remember, too, about a man, his son and a donkey.
It’s an Aesop fable, this story. The man, like all men, didn’t set out to carry the donkey. He was on his way to sell the donkey but he listened to people, and like all men who listen to people, he ended up carrying the donkey. The saddest thing about this man who carried the donkey is that he did it for a good reason. His heart, like most hearts, was in the right place. His ears weren’t. He listened to anyone who had something to say-which means everyone, really-about how to treat a donkey. Aesop meant to say that you can’t please people. You can try but in the end, you’ll only get a donkey on your back. A donkey, on your back, is no monkey.
This is about people. It’s about the observations I’ve made about people and by extension, myself. It’s true what they say, that smooth seas never made a skilled sailor. This is to say that there are a lot of things one never learns about people, and life, until tempest sets in. The tempest becomes a two-way mirror through which one can observe people. It’s interesting to say the least. I went through a patch last year, a tempestuous patch. I know that this year is halfway gone and it doesn’t make sense to talk about it now but, I guess, I was waiting for the moon to be aligned right.
Everyone is out to get theirs, every single person. Woe unto you if you come in between. You’ll be shocked by the lengths to which people will go to get you out of their way. But I learnt that there’s such a thing as schadenfreude. I learnt that there are people who will, for no particular reason, find glee in your misfortune anyway-a callous lot that will do a jig on your grave before you even get there. I learnt that until shit hit the fan, you’ll never know the real fans. I learnt that self-preservation is a most essential instinct. That, as Bunk would say, ‘One shouldn’t give a f**k when it isn’t their turn to give a f**k’. And that won’t make you less humane.
I learnt it’s good to believe in people. But that faith in people can get you in untold trouble. So it’s good to reserve your faith in people, too. I learnt that one can easily find themselves in quicksand, sinking deep with every twist and turn, right or wrong. I learnt that it’s easy to judge someone until you walk in their shoes. Then, you’ll see that ‘it ain’t as easy as it looks’, as Ted Turner would say.
I learnt that, as Aesop said, sometimes, there’s nothing that one can do that will seem right to people. That it’s wrong to even try to do something that will appease everybody because that will break you in the end. But the biggest thing I learnt is that, I, people have one mortal flaw; they are human. They can’t help doing what they do. One shouldn’t hold it against them because that will be, one might say, carrying a donkey on your back.