"We'll See" - A Chinese Proverb

Sometimes the bad things that happen to us lead us to the best things that will ever happen to us. Sometimes when good things happen to us, it can lead to trouble or unforseen consequences. You can never really label anything as "bad" or "good" because you never really know. This Chinese proverb I learned years ago illustrates this beautifully...



We’ll See


Once there was a poor Chinese Farmer living on a dirt farm near a small village in rural China. He had very little in the way of worldly goods. One day, his only son came running down from the mountains shouting. The Farmer looked up from his work and saw his son leading a magnificent wild mountain horse by a rope. The son was hopping about in excitement, proud that he had managed to rope the wild animal. Soon word spread throughout the village that good luck had found the poor Farmer. The village people swarmed the farm and congratulated the Farmer on his good luck. The Farmer listened, smiled, shrugged and simply replied “we’ll see”. The son was eager to break and train the horse and so the next day began to try and mount him. The boy tried for days until finally he swung himself on the horse’s back. He shouted triumphantly but in the next second was thrown to the ground and suffered two broken legs. The Villagers wept upon hearing this news and whispered between themselves of the Farmer’s bad luck. What a terrible stroke of bad luck! When these whispers reached the Farmer, he simply shrugged and said “we’ll see”. For weeks the Farmer’s son lay in his bed, unable to move. One day, the Villagers were approached by a messenger from the Emperor declaring that China was at War with the North. All able bodied sons were hereby drafted into the Emperor’s Army immediately. The Farmer’s son was not taken away by the Emperor to fight in his war. As they watched their sons being led away, the villagers muttered under their breath how good luck had come to the Farmer. What good luck! When one of the villagers mentioned this to the Farmer, he smiled, shrugged and said “we’ll see”.

We humans like to label things and make judgments about the things that we label. It makes us feel in control. As if we know exactly what is. We define our experiences with proclamations: “Oh, this is bad” or “wow, this is so good””. We swell with “good” things and deflate and fall apart with “bad” things. We use these beliefs to make us feel better, to soothe ourselves, to compare our experiences, to indulge in jealousy or to play the victim. The Farmer knew better. He knew that it was a waste of time to proclaim anything or to know anything for sure, for life has a way of twisting and turning, The Farmer refused to get caught up in fleeting moments. He understood that for the moment it looked like “good luck” or “bad luck” and he stood in the moment smiling but knew that what looks like good luck in one moment can twist into bad luck in the future. He chose to flow with all of life and understand that we do not and can not see the whole picture. That is not granted to us. We can simply enjoy the moment (knowing that it can all change) or endure the moment (knowing it can change). We don't need to label, categorize or control the moment or life. Life will happen as it is supposed to. We’ll see.