One of my favorite stories with a message is the Chinese Farmer:
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. All the neighbors came around that evening and said, “That’s too bad.” And the farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back and brought seven wild horses with it. And all the neighbors came around and said, “That’s great, isn’t it?” And the farmer said, “Maybe.”
The next day his son, who was attempting to tame one of these horses, and was riding it and was thrown broke his leg. And all the neighbors came around in the evening and said, “Well, that’s too bad, isn’t it?” And the farmer said, “Maybe.”
The next day the conscription officers came around looking for people for the army. They rejected his son because he had a broken leg. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said, “Well, isn’t that wonderful?” And the farmer said, “Maybe.”
In other words, you just never know.
The message in this, and in life, for me, is to wear the world like a loose garment. To remain open and curious. To be clear with my intentions and release expectations of outcomes. And, right on cue, when I do this, life does its thing.
I’ve had a few classic examples and reminders of this in my life in the last month:
- My job was eliminated
- A tremendous head cold decided to break forth…during the middle of a date
- I had wanted to be a part of a local production of “The Sound of Music”…but I missed the tryouts
Now, any or all of these could be enough to send one spiraling downward. But, gratefully, I had recently started consciously focusing on getting clear about what I want and don’t want in my life. I took steps towards these intentions, and consciously released any expectation on how it would turn out, choosing instead to take an action, observe results, and then determine my next right action. So, instead of falling into gloom and despair over the aforementioned events, I am actually quite happy, because…
- Job: Now I have time to enjoy the holidays, to heal from said cold, and to have the time to figure out what I want to do when I grow up
- Date: I was a tad worried about how the evening was going to end, and when you’re blowing your nose, that worry is eliminated!
- The play: I was talking with friends involved in the show and (somewhat) jokingly said “If you ever need any more nuns, I’ve got experience – and time! (The 1st role I ever played in 9th grade was as a postulate in this play – no, I was not in an abbey…). And sure enough, they did and I’m in! Stay tuned for more on Sister Janet!
A few years ago, during lockdown days, I attended a holiday party online, where we did an improv exercise. The connecting phrase used in an improvisation is “Yes, and…”. It acknowledges what just happened, and opens the door to a new scene. I feel like that is the secret to a life well lived: Yes, and…. When I can acknowledge what has come before, use what makes sense and release the rest, and intentionally move forward, without expectation of how this is going to end up, life flows.
So, I am currently jobless and relationship-less…and, happy! I can’t wait to see how this plays out! Ready to take the next step…