Often we think that if we can’t have a certain thing we will be crushed. Other times we may think that if our life does not go a certain way, we will not be happy. In fact, there may be things in our lives that seem like misfortune, when in fact they are a turning point that leads something even greater. That, I think is why grasping for an “if only…then I’ll be happy” is such a mistake.
There is a story that runs in Zen circles, normally it goes by the title of “Maybe.” It is appropriate in describing how we shouldn’t judge whether something is fortune and fortune.
Here it is:
There was a 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. “Wow, you are so lucky!” exclaimed his friends.
“Maybe,” replied the farmer.
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. “Such a terrible thing.”
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army to fight into a brutal war. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good fortune.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.