TWO ON AN ASS
The father liked telling stories. The children sat around him and listened. This was a new story and their father's zest in telling it made it seem important.
Once upon a time there was a man and his wife who took a long journey. They had a donkey. The woman was heavy with child, and the man was not young, and so they tired easily. The little ass gave them occasional rest when needed without interrupting the travel pace.
One day, they came into a village and attracted a lot of attention because wayfarers were rare in those parts. The villagers gathered around them and remarked with some amount of scorn, that the man was sitting on the ass and the poor pregnant wife was walking. The couple became self-conscious about this arrangement, and when they approached another village, they made sure that she was astride the donkey and not he. This too drew criticism because the people thought the man too old to be walking and the woman quite capable of exercise as she was far from due. Naturally, when they came to the third village, they both walked leading the ass behind them. This provoked many snide remarks and contempt for their stupidity in not using the beast of burden appropriately. By the time the couple left that village they were exhausted and so depressed that neither of them had the strength to walk. Looking around to make sure no one was watching, they both hoisted themselves upon the back of the husky, little ass. No sooner had they done this than a group of hunters rode by them casting shouts of indignation at them for their blatant abuse of the donkey. The man and woman looked at each other and smiled. They nudged the ass forward away from the hunters and toward their destiny.
The father looked around and asked who would comment on the tale. One of his sons jumped up and triumphantly declared, "This story means that each of us has to rely on his thoughts and feelings to make a decision." The father smiled; "Yes, you learn from people, but never let them confuse you with their expectations, ideas, biases or feelings. Your life belongs to you--only you. Know what is right for you and only you can pursue it rigorously and passionately. Be true to yourself and to what you believe--especially when everything seems lost."
His son never forgot this story of "Two on an Ass."