An Incredible Way to Embrace Acceptance

2 min read

orange and black traffic light
orange and black traffic light

"Once upon a time, there was a farmer whose horse ran away … That evening, all of his neighbors came around to commiserate.

'We are so sorry your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate,' they said.

'Maybe,' the farmer replied.

The next day, the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, 'Oh, isn't that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!'

The farmer again said, 'Maybe.'

The following day his son tried to break in one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, 'Oh dear, that's too bad.'

The farmer again responded, 'Maybe.'

The next day, the conscription officers came around to draft people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbors came around and said, 'Isn't that great!'

Once again, he said, 'Maybe.'

The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it's really impossible to tell whether anything that happens is good or bad — because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.”

This Ancient Chinese fable was made popular by the legendary Alan Watts.

In addition to its wisdom about acceptance and equanimity, this story is a powerful reminder that life is all about experiences and living in the present moment — indeed, the only time that's assured.

It also reminds us that fear is futile and that living authentically, in this moment, is essential.

While our brain is wired to label things as good and bad in its quest to give meaning and, therefore, a sense of control to each situation, this is the source of our suffering and self-sabotage.

Every road leads to another road, each rendering opportunities for growth and a full life. When we embrace this truth, we free ourselves.

So I hope this story inspires you to take a moment to breathe and to let go of fear, so that you may live a life you love.