There is an old Taoist story about 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.
“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.
“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“We’ll see,” 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.
“We’ll see,” 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.
“We’ll see,” said the farmer.
This old story illustrates our communal tendency to get caught up in whatever tragedy or perceived blessing has most recently befallen us. The old farmer doesn’t allow himself to be caught up in the manic rise and fall of emotions, but simply embraces what is and continues moving forward.
He is safe and steady upon the shore of a quiet mind, instead of being tossed about on the unruly seas of fate.