Friday, November 23, 2007

being thankful for 'bad' luck


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The other day I was watching The Martha Stewart show, and it occurred to me that I enjoy her talk show much more than I ever did her Martha Stewart Living show. This newer show is much cooler - more laid back and balanced. And she'd likely never have developed it if her prior show had not been canceled when she was convicted of perjury and sent to prison.

I would never assert that her legal problems were a blessing in disguise or anything remotely trite and insulting. But I think it's awesome that she put her situation to use and moved forward. She didn't let those serious set backs get her down.

I view my situation with my health and the resulting set backs the same way, though it took me a long time to get there. In our many, many talks about my challenges, my therapist told me the story of a farmer - a sort of parable that illustrates the idea that we can never know in the moment whether something that happens to us is good or bad luck.
A man named Sei Weng owned a beautiful mare which was praised far and wide. One day this beautiful horse disappeared. The people of his village offered sympathy to Sei Weng for his great misfortune. Sei Weng said simply, "That's the way it is."

A few days later the lost mare returned, followed by a beautiful wild stallion. The village congratulated Sei Weng for his good fortune. He said, "That's the way it is."

Some time later, Sei Weng's only son, while riding the stallion, fell off and broke his leg. The village people once again expressed their sympathy at Sei Weng's misfortune. Sei Weng again said, "That's the way it is."

Soon thereafter, war broke out and all the young men of the village except Sei Weng's lame son were drafted and were killed in battle. The village people were amazed as Sei Weng's good luck. His son was the only young man left alive in the village. But Sei Weng kept his same attitude: despite all the turmoil, gains and losses, he gave the same reply, "That's the way it is."

Source: The Story of the Taoist Farmer

The way Dr. O put the gist of this tale to me has stuck in my mind: "Good luck, bad luck, who's to say?"

Everything is exactly as it should be at this moment, and you never know what is coming next. Without what seem now like clear-cut set backs, who knows when my husband C would have discovered his passion for barbering and pursued it as a profession. Who knows when I would have had the courage to try to work for myself on my own terms. Who knows when I would have learned how to be truly happy. I am happy now, and I never was before. What a gift!

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