While I was writing my previous post on how we so love to pronounce judgments and declare opinions on situations without the knowledge of facts, I meandered towards a larger issue.
Aren’t we equally quick in labeling and bracketing ‘life’ situations? In reality, a transfer, a job change, a promotion or a relationship could hold hazaar different possibilities apart from being good or bad. Only time unravels mysteries….The perceived good event can be a source of discomfort. Likewise, any event perceived as bad, could hold the hidden potential of some good. And yes, the not-so-good ones could sometimes turn out to be…well, ugly.
Let me share a story which appeared on Paulo Coelho’s blog.
Many years ago there lived a poor farmer with his son in a Chinese village. His only material good, besides his land and small straw house was a horse he had inherited from his father. One fine day, the horse ran away leaving the man to plough the soil alone.
His neighbors came to his house to say how much they lamented what had happened.
He thanked them, and asked: 'How can you tell that what happened in my life was a misfortune?'
Someone said to a friend of his in a low voice: 'He doesn't want to accept reality, let him think whatever he wants, as long as he doesn't become saddened by what happened.'
A week later, his horse returned to the barn, but it wasn't alone - with it was a beautiful mare.
As they learned about it, the village's inhabitants went back to the farmer's house to compliment him for his luck.
'You had only one horse and now you have two! Congratulations!' they said.
'Thank you very much for your visit and for your kindness,' answered the farmer. 'But how can you tell that what happened is a blessing in my life?'
Confused and thinking the man was getting mad, his neighbours went away, saying: 'I wonder if this man doesn't realise God has sent him a gift?'
A month went by and the farmer's son decided to domesticate the mare. But the animal jumped in an unexpected way and the young man fell badly, breaking his leg.
The neighbour’s went to the farmer's house, saying everyone was very sad about what had happened.
The man thanked everyone for the love that had been showered. And he asked: 'How can you tell if what happened in my life was a misfortune?'
This sentence left everyone stupefied; as no one can be the least doubtful that an accident with a son is a true tragedy. As they left the farmer's house, they would say to one another: 'The man has really gone mad; his only son may be forever crippled and he still has doubts whether what happened was a misfortune.'
A few months went by and Japan declared war against China. The emperor's emissaries travelled through the entire country in search of healthy young men to be sent to the front.
As they arrived at the village, they recruited all young men, except the farmer's son, who had a broken leg. None of the young men returned alive.
The farmer started to visit his neighbours to comfort them. Whenever one of them complained, the farmer would say: 'How can you tell if this is a misfortune?' If someone would be too happy, he would ask, "how can you tell if that is a blessing?'
Events in my life have unraveled and unfolded in ways never imagined. I have come to believe that “If you want God to laugh, tell him your plans’ is not an adage. It is a truism. It is futile to comprehend life in any duality. Events are not always good or bad, statements are not always right or wrong, and answers are not always ‘a yes’ or ‘a no’ and decisions are not always favorable or unfavorable. Indeed, beyond appearances, life has other meanings which are beyond human comprehension. The best way perhaps is to go with the flow without being judgmental.
And when one has tried to solve all the mysteries of life, comes death – the biggest mystery of them all.