The Teachable Moment
I like to remember the Taoist parable about the farmer whose prized horse runs away. His neighbors exclaim, “what terrible fortune you have!” The farmer replies, “maybe.”
The next day, the horse returns to its pen, leading fifteen wild stallions in its course. “What great fortune you have!” The farmer replies, “maybe.”
The farmer’s son the next day is severely injured while taming one.
“What terrible fortune you have!”
The military comes to conscript all able-bodied young men into war the following day; and the son, therefore, cannot go.
“What great fortune you have!”
I had a week like that last week. Perhaps, this year could be viewed likewise. In fact, life, in every dark moment, has a teachable component as we go into the next. Inherently “bad” things may turn out beautiful. Inherently “good” things may truly be terrible fortune.
Pause. Breath. Suspend judgment. Delay reaction. Check yourself on overreaction. We cannot get to tomorrow until tomorrow. And we don’t know what will come of the reverberations from bad news or good news. We cannot know how the ripples in a pond will grow based on how pretty or ugly the stone is. The features of the stone will not predict for us the way the water reacts.
I like to remember the Taoist parable.
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