Today I choose to not be a mule

4 mph.

That was about how fast the mules and horses, harnessed to barges, moved people and goods along the canal.  I once had a friend tell me old family stories about moving to the far west — Ohio! — by means of the Erie Canal.  He described how his great-grand-relatives used to step off the slow moving packet boat to pick a few ripening apples from a neighboring tree, before stepping back on.  It is hard to imagine the leisured pace of these mules, who were changing the nation.  Without mule- (and horse-) powered canal boats, America’s development would have slowed drastically.

With gratitude to these beasts of burden, let me respectfully say again: being a mule is great, if you happen to be a mule.

We, however, are people.  Unlike mules, we were not designed as beasts of burden, to plod along the same tired paths year after year.  We were not designed to be driven, harnessed to a never-ending load, nor hindered from creative imagining and freedom to choose.

It was not mules that envisioned an Erie Canal, nor surveyed the land for the best route.  It was not mules who designed the canal, nor constructed it. It was not mules who dreamed of a new life, staking their fortunes on a several hundred-mile move to the west to establish a farm or mill or export company.  

People did that.  

As people, we were designed to choose.  We can choose to be strong, not stubborn. We  can choose to envision, to create, to try, and to build. We do not need to mindlessly plod the same paths over and over again, harnessed like a beast of burden.

Today, I choose HOW to not be a mule.  I am going to dream, create, and try new things.  How about you?

For more, read the story and hear the song in chapter 3 of America: The Heart of a New Nation, one of the new titles in Experience History Through Music series by Diana Waring Presents.