Lesson on RESILIENCY by an old goat...


I was reading some a few old letters my Viejita wrote me the other night. They got me thinking about some of the stories my Viejita told us. One that came to mind was a story on shaking our burdens off and never giving up.

We all face changes and challenges, so I hope that my Viejita’s story will remind each of us about our own personal resilience.

My Viejita had a great sense of humor. She always added a bit of humor to her lectures. Some of her stories were a bit farfetched. Then again giving advice to nine boys who didn’t always feel like working, had to be captivating. She had to connect with us or a lot of the “lessons” would go in one ear and out the other.

One day she told us a story about Don Damasio the village Juez (Judge) and his old CHIVO  which is a Spanish slang word for goat. I remember we all fell over laughing and almost in unison shouted, “Now Madre, what does that have to do with us not wanting to go back to work for that evil Don Trini (the wealthy village baron)?.”

She gave us the “look” and spoke only one word… LISTEN! She began again, “Well one day Don Damasio’s curious old goat was peeking into his old well and as it looked into the well it lost its footing, slipped and fell head first into the well.

It was the old dried up well with almost no water. The goat, she said fell with several loud thumps! Soon it was inconsolable and cried and screamed louder with each passing minute.

Don Damasio who was not far away cleaning his fingernails with an old nail, heard the strange echoing commotion, but couldn’t tell right away where it was coming from.

He finally realized it was coming from his old well. He quickly put his nail cleaner in the brim of his hat, straightened it just so and scrambled over to the well and looked in… “Aye Dios Mio! OMG! How did you get there?"

"Now what are we going to do?” He spent the next few minutes scratching his head and trying desperately to figure out what to do.

He tried calling out to the old goat. “Aye mi cabrito pendejo," (we screamed with laughter to hear our Mother cuss)! "Por que? Oh my, my little stupid goat! Why?” He then ran and got a long rope, made a noose and tried lassoing the old goat. The old goat didn’t like the idea of the noose and would quickly sway his head away from it. Nada… nothing worked.

After a while el Juez came to the sad conclusion that the goat had met his destiny. After all he was always eating something…his carrots, his lettuce, his rose bush, and once even his only pair of church socks. Thinking back that day had almost been the end of the dear old chivo.

Don Damasio usually wore leather sandals with thick tire thread soles – that is except on Sundays for church when he wore his prized black socks and shiny patented leather shoes.

Don Damasio didn't know what to do. He kept wrestling with a the toughest decision of his judicial career… even trying to convince himself by thinking, “He is an old goat anyway... or the well has needed to be covered up for a few years since it had gone dry.”

He even looked up to the skies as if to find an answer. He slowly made the sign of the cross, took his dusty hat off… placed it on his heart and shook his head. The jury was in... it was decided… it just wasn't worth spending a lot of time and effort to save the old goat.

He ran over to his neighbors Don Alfredo and Doña Esperanza and asked them for help. They needed to rush over to help him with his dilemna. So the three elders grabbed their shovels and soon began to shovel dirt into the well.

The old chivo somehow figured it out... "Dios mio!," he must have said... for he soon realized what was happening and now he really began to howl. "How could they do this to me? I hadn’t been any worse than my fellow chivos – maybe except for the smelly black socks?"

But the dirt kept flying. They kept grunting and shoveling more and more dirt down the well and most of it on top of the old goat. The old goat just knew the end was near. His wailing got louder and louder and more desperate in tone!

But then suddenly, to everyone's amazement, there was no noise coming out of the well… the old goat had finally quieted down.

Don Damasio looked at his neighbors, and then made the sign of the cross and said, "Gracías a Díos! Thank God! No more suffering."  A few more shovel loads later and still more silence…

Soon Don Damasio’s curiosity got the best of him. He motioned to the others and then all three leaned over and peeked down into the well and had to say, “Y’jole!”  They could not believe their own eyes.

The old goat was doing something really amazing. As the dirt would hit his back he would simply shake it all off and take a step up. "That my chivo!" Don Damsio exclaimed. 

The more dirt Don Damasio, Don Alfredo and Doña Esperanza shoveled down into the well and on top of the old goat, the more he would shake off and take another step up.
Hours passed and the old goat kept up with the shovelers.

Pretty soon, everyone was even more amazed as the old goat’s horns and big yellow almond eyes could be seen peering up… he kept taking huge springing jumps.  

Then somehow he had jumped up high enough to balance himself momentarily on to the edge of the well. And for a moment he teetered there... and quickly vaulted over Doña Esperanza's hunched back and bounced off a few feet away.

He then stopped turned as if to thanks the trio of shovelers; shook himself off one more time and then leaned towards the ground as he stretched his back.  He took one more look with his big yellow almond eyes at the shoveling trio and then pranced proudly off.

My Viejita ended her story with – “Uno nunca se da por vencido”… “One must never give up.” She added “Life will shovel dirt on you… all kinds of dirt. But if you are to succeed, you have to be able to shake it all off and keep moving onward.”

I think that what she meant was that we all have an innate ability to get out of the toughest situations. That even if we get a lot piled on us, we must remember that the only way out - is to never quit trying, and always shake it off and keep stepping on up!

Today and forever remember this old chivo's story... and never give up!

Be tough... be resilient... shake it off and step up!

Make it a great dia!

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