Shake It Off & Step Up

There is a story of a farmer who had an old mule. One day the mule fell into the farmer’s empty, dry well. As the mule cried for help, the farmer assessed the situation. Although the mule had served the farmer faithfully for many years, the farmer decided that neither the mule nor the well was wrth the trouble. So, he decided that instead of bothering to lift the heavy mule from the well, he would simply bury him in there. The farmer called his friend and together they began to shovel dirt into the open well.

When the first shovelful of dirt hit the mule he panicked. “What is this?” he thought. When the second shovelful hit him, he began to cry. “How could the farmer do this to me?” he wondered. When the third shovelful hit him, he realized the plan. However, the mule decided that he would not allow himself to be buried alive. As each shovelfui=l fell upon his back, he rallied himself to “shake it off and step up.”

As shovelful after shovelful of dirt hit him on his back, and as he felt dejected and pained, he continued to chant himself, “Shake it off and step up.” This he did, shovelful after shovelful, until – as the dirt reached the top of the well – the mule triumphantly walked out of what would have been his tomb.

If the farmer had not decided to kill the mule, the mule would never have survived. Ironically, it was the dirt which was meant to end the mule’s life that actually ended up saving him, simpky due to the way in which the mule handled the situation.

In life, sometimes we feel as though the world is “throwing blows at us.” We feel shattered and broken. We feel as though we are being “buried alive.” We complain that our co-workers or family members or friends/enemies are out to get us and purposely throw obstacles and hurdles our way. Perhaps someone is actually trying to injure us. Or, perhaps we are simply stuck in a difficult situation and feel as though we are being handed more than our share of difficulties, trials and tribulations.

Whether the onslaught is truly from an outside source or whether it is just our own misinterpretation, we have two choices. We can either succumb to the onslaught and allow ourselves to be buried – mentally or physically – or we can “shake it offa nd step up.” The latter is surely a more difficult path. It requires resolution, will to survive, fortitude and faith. Further, it requires us to refuse to be a victim. It requires us to take responsibility for our own success or failure. But, in the end, it is the path that will lead us to our triumph. If we continue to “shake off” whatever hits us in life, and we continue to “step up” and rise above any situation, then we, too, will always be victorious and our lives will be successful and joyful.

May God bless you all with the inner strength to always shake it off and step up, in whatever circumstances you may be put.

With love and blessings,
In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati

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