Don't be so sure

2019-12-05

There’s an old parable I love. It goes something like this:

One day a farmer’s horse ran away. His neighbours said “Aw man, I’m sorry, that’s terrible.” He responded “Well, I don’t know. We’ll see.”

A few days later, his horse came back, and she brought half a dozen wild horses with her. People said “Wow, what a stroke of luck!” He responded “Well, I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Two weeks later, while training one of the new horses, the farmer’s son was thrown to the ground and badly broke his leg. “Yikes,” people said, “that’s really serious because this parable takes place in olden times when a broken leg could really easily kill a person. That’s awful.” And the farmer responded “Well, I don’t know. We’ll see.”

A week after that, the army came through the village. They conscripted all the young men to go to war, but because the farmer’s son had broken his leg, they let him stay. “Good thing it happened after all!” people said. He responded “Well, I don’t know. We’ll see.”

It’s tough to say what’s good and what’s bad without knowing the whole story. And you may never get to know the whole story. Instead, try to be able to work with everything, no matter what happens.

I wrote this post unable to remember where the story came from. I’ve since been told that it’s from Tao: The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts and Al Chung-liang Huang. I’ve never read that, so I imagine I heard it told on a podcast or something, and have forgotten where. Sorry to whoever I heard it from.