A friend recently told me this great Taoist story:
There was 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.
“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.
“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“We’ll see,” 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.
“We’ll see,” 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.
“We’ll see” said the farmer.
There is so much to love in this story. First, it hits upon one of my favorite bits of wisdom, being able to see the good in the bad and the bad in the good. As Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn says, “No Mud, No Lotus”. Does that make sense? Another way of saying it is no compost, no veggies. The waste makes the food makes the waste makes the food. No light without shadow. Opposites are actually inseparable parts of each other. They are actually the same thing. It’s the good old yin and yang.
The best things in our lives grow from the fertile ground left when things fall apart. And the hardest things in our lives come from the best things, too, things such as being alive, loving, learning.
Whenever things are rough, I always look for the blessings. And when things are great I try to practice letting it flow, not trying to hold on too tightly. Good and bad will come and go. Nurturing this kind of equanimity, this calm at the center of the storm is one of the main reasons I meditate.
Another reason I love this Taoist story is that it could just go on and on. You could easily add to it 10, 20 or 100 more events. And the farmer would just say, “We’ll See.”
To me, this really gets to what a long, twisty-turny path life really is. How many times have I despaired, thinking my world was falling apart only to later find myself feeling like the luckiest person alive. And on it goes. We never know what is around the next corner. I find that very comforting. I like to think of all the things that will happen in my life, which I can’t even begin to imagine now. I like not knowing the future. I like knowing that people, places and events beyond my wildest imagination are out there moving toward me and I don’t even know it. Sure, some will be tragic and some will be grand, but to me, it’s all just gorgeous. The fact that we are even here and all this is happening is such a wonder and a miracle. A million billion miracles one after another and all at the same time.
When our perspective is too small, only reacting to one event at a time, the feelings can be overwhelming. But, if we can remember that this is only one event in an infinite landscape of possibilities, we can be a bit more dispassionate, a bit more open-minded, we can zoom out and see the big picture. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about the things that happen for, to and around us in 2017. We are human and we have feelings, beliefs and opinions. But it never hurts to keep an open mind and a light heart. Especially when things don’t seem to be going in our favor, just remember, We’ll See!