A single person, with no commitment to a relationship, can afford to spend a lifetime pleasing themselves in an independent life. A couple, with a commitment to a relationship, may spend their lives pleasing one another in a give-and-take or inter-dependent relationship. Any of these makes some sense [I address this subject in a full session of the “Prepare & Enrich” intending couples/couples workshop sessions]. What is senseless, however, is trying hard to please everybody: what are you doing, becoming the old man, his young son, and his old donkey?

“You shall have it just as I found it in an old book” By John Ploughman (In a book by Jonathan Edwards).

I use this story by John Ploughman at Life ‘N’ Truth to help people focus their time on fulfilling their purpose in life’s journey. If you seek to fulfil your purpose, you will please some people. If you seek to please some people, you will surely displease some, and if you seek to please everybody, you will come to no purpose.

At the end of this story, please remember to pause, reflect and make a lifetime decision by the message at the conclusion of this story. To make the language of this story a bit clearer to understand by today’s readers and listeners, I have decided to both paraphrase and add new narratives to this old story, originally given in the old English language by John Ploughman.

I have also decided to give names to the old man, his son and his donkey, just for easier reference, so you can easily follow the story. I have named the old man, Daniel, his son, Duncan, and his donkey, Donkey (as in first name): the three Ds…just so even kids may learn this story and remember it! The three D’s are on a journey…on a mission, with a particular purpose known only to Daniel and his son, Duncan. Donkey doesn’t know why, but I will give you a hint (don’t let Donkey hear this): the journey was to go to the market and sell off Donkey and bring home some cash. This is not the proverbial cash cow. This is now the proverbial cash donkey.

Now the dramatic scenes begin. It starts with what turns out to be the least spectacular sight and ends up with the most bizarre sight on this journey. So, Daniel, Duncan, and Donkey all walked along the road. They are now on their way; but then …they are met with passers-by. In different stages of this journey, the passers-by are either making comments behind them and/or sneering at them, mocking at them or simply laughing hysterically at them, for reasons you will soon figure out if you follow through the story.

Stage 1: They came across someone along the road who picked on them: Why…you have no wit, no wisdom? You let you both be walking and exhausted and let this donkey go light? Once Daniel heard this, he set his son upon the donkey and footed it himself. Stage 1 ends with this sight:

Duncan mounted on the donkey, and Daniel the old man footing it along.

Stage 2: ‘Why, …,’ says another to Duncan, ‘ you lazy rogue, must you ride and let your old father go a-foot?’ Once Daniel heard this, he took down his son, Duncan, and mounted upon the donkey himself. Stage 2 ends with this sight: Daniel mounted on the donkey while his son, Duncan, walks along.

Stage 3: They met another set of people…Do you see,’ says a third, ‘how the lazy old knave rides himself, and the poor young fellow has much ado to creep after him?’ Once Daniel heard this, he took up his son behind him on the donkey. So, Stage 3 ends with this sight: Daniel and Duncan mounted upon the donkey.

Stage 4: The next set of people they met put them through agonising questions and answers time. The first one asked the old man whether the Donkey was his own or not? He said, ‘Yes.’ ‘There’s little sign that it’s yours’. The other one says, because both of you are too much load for the donkey. Once Daniel heard this, he said to himself: ‘Well, what am I to do now? For I’m laughed at, if either:

(i) the donkey has no rider or – (ii) if one of us rides, or both;’ And so, Daniel, the old man, came to the conclusion to bind the donkey’s legs together with a cord and a pole. Mounting the donkey upon their shoulders, between him and his son, they tried to carry the donkey to the market.

Now Stage 4 ends with this sight: A smiling Donkey enjoying a spectacular ride, carried by a pole, sitting comfortably on the shoulders of the old man and his son, Daniel and Duncan. What a bizarre sight!

This was much sport to onlookers, insomuch that the old man was in great wrath. He could take it no more. He’s had enough.

Stage 5: In his great rage, Daniel and his son headed down into a river… throwing down the donkey, they went their way home, with mission and purpose unaccomplished.

The Message: “The good man…. was willing to please everybody, but had the ill fortune to please nobody, and lost his donkey into the bargain.”

May I now turn attention to my dear readers/listeners, as I close: What’s your take on this…the old man, his son and his donkey?

What have you learnt in your own journey of relationships? Or perhaps, you have a question to ask? Bring it on, and let our community here please feel free to engage in this conversation.

Otherwise, if you want it privately handled, or to seek further consultation, contact me at Paul@lemanconsultants.com.au