For most of my life I sorted everything into two categories. Good and Bad. There is a varying degree-really bad, very great, the best, the worst-but everything fit somewhere on that spectrum. There is of course, okay and neutral, but who fondly looks back on the neutral old days or fears an okay situation?
I should be afraid, or maybe feel this is the greatest time of my life. I do and I don’t.
A few years back when I was trying to figure out why I was such a catastrophe in my own life and the lives of those around me I turned to faith and spirituality in a desperate attempt to alleviate the suffering for both myself and the suffering I caused others. I read this story and suddenly life made sense.
Once upon a time 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.
“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.
And such is life. This is the Tao.
Life is full of good things and bad things, when life is looked at in isolated events. Taken as a whole it becomes more difficult to see what is good and bad. One way I have applied this in my life is that the things I have typically categorized as ‘bad’ are challenges. I should not miss the point that challenges are meant to be overcome. When I overcome a challenge I see growth and that is typically categorized as ‘good.’
The conclusion becomes obvious that one situation cannot occur without the other. Gradually I learned to face my fears and accept life’s challenges. And the greatest time of my life is every day I get to live on this earth.
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