The Horse and Life

There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this:

Once there was a Chinese farmer who worked his poor farm together with his son and their horse. When the horse ran off one day, neighbors came to say, “How unfortunate for you!” The farmer replied, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.”When the horse returned, followed by a herd of wild horses, the neighbors gathered around and exclaimed, “What good luck for you!” The farmer stayed calm and replied, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” While trying to tame one of wild horses, the farmer’s son fell, and broke his leg. He had to rest up and couldn’t help with the farm chores. “How sad for you,” the neighbors cried. “who knows what is good and what is bad,” said the farmer. Shortly thereafter, a neighboring army threatened the farmer’s village. All the young men in the village were drafted to fight the invaders. Many died. But the farmer’s son had been left out of the fighting because of his broken leg. People said to the farmer, “What a good thing your son couldn’t fight!” “Who knows what is good and what is bad,” was all the farmer said.

Much like the farmer, we all experience events in our life that we did not foresee.  For example, I was recently let go from my employment due to internal restructuring.  It was not only my position, it was company wide.  There are numerous people now without the steady source of income.  Yet, who knows what is good and what is bad? I know that I will be able to have food, shelter, and water.  I do not know what the future holds. I am open to new opportunities as they arise.

This parable is one that has stuck with me.  When assigning events in life as either good or bad, we are forced to keep them in the designated box.  We become tied to the “outcome” of the event.  Was it bad that I no longer have a job? Yes! Is it good that I am able to spend more time with my son? Yes! In this instance, who knows what is good and what is bad? The event would fit nicely in both boxes.

I do not know what the future holds, which can lead to anxiety or peace.  I can be at peace with the fact that while life was unexpectedly altered, I will be ok.  The reason for this knowledge: life is an ever-changing motion of ebb and flow.  Just learn to go with the flow.

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