The dualities of life are a funny thing. One minute you’re prancing across the dizzying heights of success, and the next, you feel as if you’re standing in the deep trenches of despair. It is easy to be caught up on this wave of life, allowing your moods and attitudes to reflect the push and pull of the world around you.
Seeing people who are constantly riding this volatile wave has made me think very seriously about my own life journey. Everyone has ‘ups and downs’, but when I allow my character and disposition to mirror these ups and downs, I must remember that I am only expressing a fleeting reflection of outside pressures.
Consider this ancient parable:
There was a farmer who had a strong, hard-working horse. This horse could plough fields all day and carry heavy loads. The farmer’s neighbours, who did not have such a prized animal, often said to him, “You’re so lucky to have that horse.”
The farmer, going about his work, simply replied, “Maybe, maybe not.”
Then one day, the farmer’s horse broke through the farm gates and ran away, leaving the farmer without the animal that he had come to depend on. The farmer’s neighbours said to him, “Gee, you’re so unlucky that your horse ran away.”
The farmer, getting on with life without his horse, simply replied, “Maybe, maybe not.”
A little while later, the farmer’s horse came back with ten mares, all strong, fit and healthy. The farmer’s neighbours gasped and said, “You’re so lucky to now have 11 strong horses to work on your farm!”
The farmer, grooming his 11 horses, simply replied, “Maybe, maybe not.”
The farmer’s only son decided to take a ride on one of the mares. On the way home, the mare bolted and threw the farmer’s only son to the ground, crushing his legs, which became infected, and later leading the son into delirium, balancing on the brink of death. When the farmer’s neighbours heard this, they said, “Oh no! Your only son is dying! You are so unlucky.”
The farmer, while aiding his son, simply replied, “Maybe, maybe not.”
Before long, war was declared, and officials came to the village to draft the village’s young men to serve in the army. Upon seeing the condition of the farmer’s only son, the officials decided he could not fight, and so they did not draft him into the war. A few days later, the son’s fever broke and he regained his health. The farmer’s neighbours, whose sons had all been drafted into the terrible war, cried out to the farmer, “Oh, you are so lucky that your son did not have to go to war!”
The farmer, while hugging his son, simply replied, “Maybe, maybe not.”
I am always revived when I hear or tell this story. The moral is that the true significance of things that happen in our lives can never be totally understood at the time they are occurring. Every event holds elements of both good and bad, and the true implications of the event may not be truly known for many years. Life will throw so many things at us and it is our job to steadily steer through all of it to live our lives doing what we need to do. Who has the right to say whether something is good or bad; lucky or unlucky? Even bad things happen for a reason. My father used to always say to me, in Spanish, that “everything bad happens for a good reason”. How true this is.
Please take a moment to ponder… If we allow ourselves to be thrown around by life and if we wallow in self-pity or boastfully brag during good fortune, we are allowing ourselves to become the puppet of something we cannot control and are blinding ourselves to tomorrow’s ramifications of today’s events. Take the good with the bad. Ask yourself if YOU are lucky? I hope that you find the answer is: Maybe, maybe not.
Group Managing Director