Good, bad, maybe...

Sometimes what we originally think is a ‘bad’ thing, can actually help us! ... it’s all about the way we perceive things.


There’s an ancient fable which tells of an old man and his son living in rural China during the construction of the Great Wall, and paints the picture perfectly...

The old man had a horse that ran away one day to join a group of wild horses, prompting the other villagers to comment that it was ‘very bad luck’. To this, the old man simply replied “Maybe”.

The next day the horse returned to the village, bringing with it a wild one, so then the man had two horses! The villagers all thought this was ‘very good luck!’, but the old man again just said “Maybe”.

The following day, the old man’s son attempted to ride the wild horse and was thrown off, breaking his leg as he fell. The villagers all gathered around, sure that this was more bad luck, but the sage in his wisdom again responded, “Maybe”.

At that time in China, soldiers were travelling from town to town gathering up able-bodied young men to build the Great Wall. It was very dangerous work and many men died during the construction period and were buried in the structure.

Because the son had a broken leg, he was left behind.

Well! The villagers were sure that this was ‘very good luck!’, but once again the old man remained neutral. He again quietly responded with his usual comment, “Maybe.”

I think this is a great parable to keep in mind as we face life’s ‘downs and ups’. Things that seem to be against us are not always so. When we stop protesting and resisting and instead view what's happened from a different perspective, often we can find the learning or benefits that each new turn of events has for us. Of course that takes practise and the ability to live in the ‘now’. Which of course is really the only time we have.

Here’s a suggestion … share this story with your children and ask them to find examples of times when something they thought was ‘bad’, turned out to be more positive than first imagined.

Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    Natasha (Monday, 21 July 2014 00:07)

    Hi Julie,
    Have just tuned in to your website after hearing you speak on local radio this morning. Your information comes to me at a perfect time, when I need to deal with new anxieties my nine year old is dealing with. Thanks for your help. Can't wait to read more of your blogs as they come!

  • #2

    Julie Davey (Thursday, 31 July 2014 01:24)

    Thanks Natasha, I trust that your local library had a copy of A for Attitude to work with and that your 9 year old is enjoying the book.
    Kind regards,