There’s a Chinese proverb that goes something like this…
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!”. The farmer replied “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few days later the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out “Your horse has returned and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” and the farmer replied “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!”. The farmer replied “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied young men for the army. The farmer’s son wasn’t conscripted, because he was still recovering from his injury. His neighbors shouted “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!”, to which the farmer replied “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
The moral of this story is that very few events can truly be judged as good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate at the time that they occur – in many cases only time will tell the whole story.
We have the tendency to jump to conclusions and this gets conveyed in the stories we tell.
What happens when, instead of jumping to conclusions, we allow space for other alternative endings to be possible?