We all know life is unpredictable… with the exception of certain death, as they say. Knowing this, life would be so much easier if we could just expect the unexpected, right? But, well, how would we do that? Wouldn’t that make the unexpected the expected? I’ll stop before I confuse myself.
Its easy to label events, especially ones we can’t predict or plan for, as “good” or “bad.” But are those labels accurate or necessary? I’m not a religious person, but I do think Buddhism offers some wonderful insight into this topic (as do other religions). I love this short Taoist story, which illustrates their philosophy.
This is a story of an old farmer who 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.
While I absolutely love the lesson of this story, agree with it fully, and feel that it does help me to more easily accept many life events without labeling, it doesn’t magically make “tragedies” or “life-altering” events any easier to handle. At least for me. Events such as illnesses or deaths of loved ones, for example, will never be easy. My pregnancy complications was one of these unexpected and “life-altering” events. I read and listened to a good amount of Buddhist teachings during this pregnancy journey, and plan share what I found helpful in an upcoming post. Hopefully it will help someone else in the future!