Monday, September 04, 2017

You worry too much

“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Here's an ancient Taoist story.
An old farmer had a horse that ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said.

"Maybe," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. 
"Maybe," 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. 
"Maybe," 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. 
"Maybe," said the farmer.
This wisdom has appeared in all cultures for centuries. The great first-century Roman philosopher Seneca understood it. Maria Popova at Brain Pickings quotes him:
"There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.

"Some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow.

"It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has the unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass! And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives; so look forward meanwhile to better things.
Be like the farmer.

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