Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sufi Legend to Cure Disappointment

Many years ago in a poor Chinese village, there lived a peasant with his son. His only material possession, apart from some land and a small straw hut, was a horse he had inherited from his father.

One day, the horse ran off, leaving the man with no animal with which to till the land. His neighbors – who respected him greatly for his honesty and diligence – came to his house to say how much they regretted what had happened. He thanked them for their visit, but asked:

- How can you know that what has happened has been a misfortune in my life?

Someone mumbled to a friend: “he can’t accept reality, let him think what he wants, as long as he isn’t saddened by what happened.”

And the neighbors went off, pretending to agree with what they had heard.

A week later, the horse returned to the stable, but it was not alone; it brought with it a fine mare for company. Upon hearing this, the villagers – who were flustered since they now understood the answer the man had given them – returned to the peasant’s house, in order to congratulate him on his good fortune.

- Before you had only one horse, and now you have two. Congratulations! – they said.

- Many thanks for your visit and for all your concern – answered the peasant. – But how can you know that what has happened has been a blessing in my life?

Disconcerted, and thinking he must be going mad, the neighbors went off, and on the way commented: “does he really not understand that God has sent him a gift?”

A month later, the peasant’s son decided to tame the mare. But the animal unexpectedly reared up and the boy fell and broke his leg.

The neighbors returned to the peasant’s house – bringing gifts for the wounded boy. The mayor of the village offered his condolences to the father, saying that all were very sad at what had happened.

The man thanked them for their visit and their concern, but asked:

- How can you know that what has happened has been a misfortune in my life?

They were all astonished to hear this, since no one could be in any doubt that the accident of a son was a real tragedy. As they left the peasant’s house, some said to others: “he really has gone mad; his only son might limp forever, and he is still in doubt about whether what happened is a misfortune.”

Some months passed, and Japan declared war on China. The Emperor’s envoys traveled throughout the land in search for healthy young men to be sent to the battle front. Upon arrival in the village, they recruited all the young men except the peasant’s son, whose leg was broken.

None of the young men returned alive. The son recovered, the two animals bred and their offspring were sold at a good price. The peasant began visiting his neighbors to console and help them, – since they had at all times been so caring. Whenever one of them complained, the peasant said: “how do you know it is a misfortune?” If anyone become overjoyed, he asked: “how do you know it is a blessing?” And the men in that village understood that beyond appearances, life has other meanings.

Five minutes ago, I was literally srcubbing my eyes, reaching for the laptop, in bed, and uploading the webpage of the Second Best Job in the World to see if I was in the Top 5 finalists. BUMMER. My video is no longer there.

My first reaction is disappointment. Disappointment because you put so much effort into something you really want, into something you believe you are the best at.

You tried, you worked it, you gave 200%, you payed attention to every single detail, you were honest and true to yourself. For all these reasons I don't allow myself to be either sad, angry or disappointed for more than 5 minutes when something doesn't work out.

A lot of times we simply don't see the bigger picture, and so we complain and crumble in negative feelings. Why didn't my realtionship work out? Why didn't I get this job? Why did my car get towed? And after five years now, I even feel comfortable saying why did my father die?

Things happen. LIFE happens. Sometimes, what you are the most convinced is good for you, is actually not the path you were meant to follow. But there is always, always, something else for you around the corner. How do you think I started blogging? If I didn't get rejected at the previous job I had applied for, I would never be where I am today.

I remember when I first read the Sufi legend of the Lost Horse. The moment I read it, it stayed with me forever. Today, everytime I feel a sense of disappointment taking over me, I go back to it. By the time I'm done reading, I'm back up, thankful for life, happy to have tried, proud of conquering my fears, smirking at life and wondering which crazy adventure and dreams are next.

Life is short. Too short to spend much time wondering why things didn't work out.

There will be failures, but only if you see them as such.



  1. Super histoire, merci! Ayant fait beaucoup de compétition sportive individuelle dans ma jeunesse, j'ai appris l'importance, après être tombée, de bien savoir se relever et penser à la prochaine course... et depuis quelques année, j'ai vraiment l'impression que cette philosophie me profite énormément. Bravo pour ton accomplissement re: the Second Best Job. C'est réellement impressionnant... But really, who settles for 'second best' ??? :-)

  2. Thanks for sharing the legend of the Lost Horse and your perspective. Its only been in the past few years where I've stopped questioning decisions I've made in the past. I would wonder where I would be if only I had studied harder, took the a job and lived a simple life in the area i grew up in. All the events of the past, good and bad have led me to this moment and I am OK with that too. Have a great holiday Tamy and thanks for sharing this :-)

  3. Oh honey - u really deserved to win - that selection panel is on crack. Good to see that you have a philosophical approach to things - and ur so gifted and full of life anyway - so whatever u next put your mind to will work out.
    Now crack open the champagne and make a toast to NO CONSUMERISM, NO CARBON FOOTPRINTS, NO MARKETING BOLLOCKS

  4. Amazing - I'll adding this to my favorites so I can read it when I'm feeling down

  5. Zéro doute que des tas de belles choses s'en viennent pour toi... En tout cas, vraiment contente d'avoir pu te connaître un peu mieux grâce à ce concours! Pour moi, ça fait partie des +, peu importe l'issue. XX