There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied… (see full Zen Story below)
A lot of people take comfort in the idea that events, especially ‘bad’ ones, happen for a reason. For better or worse, that has never been the case for me. Rather, in my experience, great things can turn out to be great – or not – and crappy things can be plain ol’ crappy – or have a silver lining. We can never be sure of how we will actually experience the outcome of an event – i.e. things we are convinced will be good, may not necessarily be so (like an exciting new job), while things that appear unfortunate (not getting that exciting new job) can bring about a new, perhaps unforeseen opportunity. The only certainty is that we can’t know beforehand how things will turn out. And the only control we have is over how we respond to whatever comes.
For example, recently my partner and I did sooooo much juggling to increase the chances of our son getting into a particular school for French Immersion – one that is much closer to us than his “home” school – (the ‘home’ school which would necessitate a school bus, rather than walking). As the time drew near for children to be placed in French for September, I was becoming increasingly stressed about the entire process. I was fixating on him “having to get in” to a particular school. I was certain it would be the BEST thing for him and us. But yet, after doing all that we could to increase his chances of getting in, the outcome was beyond my control. All I could do was wait, and stress, and wait. (Well, I did have some control over the stressing part).
The short little Zen story (below) helped to ease the burden of that waiting and bring me to to a place of acceptance. After all, we can’t be certain that one outcome will be better than the other. Even if we could, there was nothing more we could have done to influence the outcome anyway. Once I learned to be open to all possible outcomes, I felt a great sense of relief. Will the outcome be good, bad, both? … Maybe.
Maybe (Zen Story)
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.