By BOB URBAN

rurban@tnonline.com

What better way to begin the New Year than with a lesson in life. Most of us have already broken our New Year's resolutions, or will be breaking them soon. The Christmas tree, so elegant and full of the holiday spirit just a few weeks ago, now looks like a chore that has to be dealt with in taking down the decorations, carefully putting them away for next year, and placing the tree out for the trash.

While we still deal with the hangover from New Year's Eve and yesterday's endless offering of football bowl games, or pick at the leftover sauerkraut and pork dinner from New Year's Day, a good way to begin the new decade is with a story that contains a lesson.

Thanks to a faithful reader, I'd like to share it with you today.

THE DONKEY IN THE WELL

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.

Live simply and appreciate what you have.

Give more.

Expect less.

NOW, the other moral to the story.

The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him.

The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

MORAL FROM TODAY'S LESSON:

When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

And, another New Year's contribution. You know it's the year 2010 when:

1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.

2 You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 20 phone numbers to reach your family of 4.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

9. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.