Wise words for turbulent times

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In this craziest of years, here is a story that I hope will be balm to some troubled souls, maybe especially on the far side of the pond, given RBG, ACB, DJT, and COVID.

There was once a farmer in ancient China who owned a horse. “You are so lucky!” his neighbours told him, “to have a horse to pull the cart for you.” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

One day he didn’t latch the gate properly and the horse ran off. “Oh no! This is terrible news!” his neighbours cried. “Such terrible misfortune!” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

A few days later the horse returned, bringing with it six wild horses. “How fantastic! You are so lucky,” his neighbours told him. “Now you are rich!” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The following week the farmer’s son was breaking-in one of the wild horses when it kicked out and broke his leg. “Oh no!” the neighbours cried, “such bad luck, all over again!” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next day soldiers came and took away all the young men to fight in the war. The farmer’s son was left behind. “You are so lucky!” his neighbours cried. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

(Story of the Taoist Farmer, told by Alan Watts, the British writer and teacher known for interpreting and popularising Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism for a Western audience. I’ve just finished listening to the audiobook of The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, which I highly recommend. It’s jam-packed with timeless wisdom, and a few smiles along the way too.)

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Alan Watts

We never know how things are going to turn out. Have you ever had an experience when something went terribly wrong — you missed your flight, you lost your bag, your car broke down — but somehow that disaster led to something really good happening, some synchronicity or serendipity that couldn’t have happened otherwise?

So if you’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster recently, have patience.

There’s another anecdote that turns out not to be true, but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

The story goes that Zhou Enlai, the premier of Communist China from 1949–1976, was once asked for his impressions of the long-term effects of the French Revolution (in 1789). Zhou famously responded that it was “too soon to tell”.

So, here’s to more “maybe”. Let’s take an attitude of “too soon to tell”.

It all works out in the end, and if it hasn’t worked out, it isn’t the end yet…


6 weeks to go until TEDxStroudWomen on 29 thNovember, which I’m curating, and early bird tickets are now on sale! Due to COVID, we will be virtual and livestreaming from the Sub Rooms in Stroud. Nine amazing speakers, presenting leading edge ideas on economics, health, compassion, community, education, collaboration, art, and sustainability. Tickets just £5 until the end of October, and you can join us from anywhere in the world! We start at 2pm UK time, 9am EST, 6am PST — hope to “see” you there!

We are also looking for sponsorship. All donations are welcome — no contribution too small. So even if you want to support Stroud women, and women in general, but can’t attend on the day, you could buy a ticket anyway to make a micro-donation, and/or spread the word to your network.

Or, if you would like to make a bigger contribution — first of all, THANK YOU! And second, please email me at roz.savage@tedxstroudwomen.co.uk.

Thanks in advance for any support you can give us — all very much appreciated!

Originally published at https://www.rozsavage.com on October 8, 2020.

Written by

Former management consultant who stepped out of the ordinary to row oceans solo. Currently writing at https://www.thegiftsofsolitude.com/ and www.rozsavage.com

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