Proverb about Wasting Time

Text: “Don’t watch the mule go blind, load the wagon.”

Context: K is a 21 year old junior at USC. He is from Palmdale, CA and is majoring in Computer Science.

He says he’s never really used this proverb, but that it came to mind when asked if he knew any. He also noted that he remembered it because he found it funny.

This is one his grandpa used to say, and he warned me before telling me that it “wasn’t very cultural” – he seemed to expect that it should be because it came from his grandpa.

Interpretation: When asked what he thought the proverb meant, K simply said “stop wasting time doing stupid things,” to “just do the work.” The implication of the proverb is that you would rather sit and watch a mule go blind rather than do necessary work. Upon further thought, the proverb seems to also mean that you shouldn’t worry about things you cannot control when preparing for something, to just do what you can. It’s also relevant that this proverb was told to him by his grandfather, as it falls into the apparent trend that proverbs are for older people. This one in particular seems like a kind of warning from someone further in life to someone who still has a lot of time – to not waste that time on things that are either meaningless or out of our control and to instead focus on the task at hand.