Don’t You Worry about that Mule
by Ginger Keller Gannaway
One of Dad’s favorite sayings makes me both nod and scratch my head: “Don’t you worry about that mule. That mule ain’t going blind.”
I totally get the essence of his advice, even if I don’t fully understand the specific imagery. A mule is a hybrid of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). A mule has more strength, patience, intelligence, and longevity than either of its parents. Darwin has said that with the hybrid mule’s superior characteristics, “art has outdone nature.”
I suppose my persistent and powerful worries can be compared to the superior pack animal – the mule. As I age, I have too much time to obsess over my endless list of fears:
Will my son get the new and improved job he seeks?
Will the ceiling slash in our living room turn out to need major roof repair costing thousands?
Will my car’s weird electrical issue where the doors automatically lock and unlock when I make a sharp turn or go over a train track one day keep me trapped when my car gets forced off a highway that crosses a deep river?
Will my dad’s nurses ignore his buzzer calls for help?
Will the latest global virus turn into scenes from the movie Contagion?
I’m not sure why Dad’s saying is about the mule’s eyesight, but maxims do not have to be logical, e.g. “Happy as a clam” or “Hunger is the best pickle.” They just need to suggest the essence of a piece of wisdom. Momma’s explanation to me of the Cajun phrase, “Tonnerre ma chien! (“Thunder the dog!”) was , “Well, it just means, ya know, ‘Thunder the dog,’ like you say, ‘Tonnerre ma chien!’ ya know.” There’s a feeling of an unexplained exclamation there, like a “Oh my God!” I guess.
So sayings can hold an abstract wisdom using concrete imagery, whether we’re talking about a dog in a storm or a mule with sight problems.
My worries sometimes tangle me in knots of fear. I lose sleep or overeat or snap at my pets and my husband. Then my senseless concerns never come close to reality. My son did not start holding up a cardboard sign on the corner of First Street and Ben White Blvd. when he was between jobs. My car has not trapped and drowned me at the bottom of Lake Pontrachain on my way to New Orleans.
Dad’s saying involves a mule because worries have strength and a sturdiness that stays with a person. However, mules also are known for being more affectionate than their parents. Therefore, I accept the fears of my nonsensical brain and remember that my head makes unlikely predictions.
Mules may get stuck in mud-filled ditches but they do not despair because they believe what Dad knows, “Don’t you worry about that mule. That mule ain’t going blind.”