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Living free; shedding the good and bad labels

Life is full of events that at the time can seem like a disaster or a triumph.  However, we never really know whether an event will have some long term good or hurt; perhaps not until the fullness of time has passed. This is my take on another old story.  Just as before (see a short story of simplicity) I will not add much commentary but let the concept of the story speak. Enjoy.

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When I was in my forties I was a single parent, with two children and struggling with finances. After breakfast one morning I received a letter with some photographs. The pictures were of a charming looking log cottage in the hills facing the sea. It looked beautiful, surrounded back and sides by tall pine trees and secluded; what a lovely house I thought. The final picture was of an unfamiliar old man. After dwelling on the photos I read the letter. My heart raced as I saw the words, apparently a distant relative had died and as their only living relative they had left me the house in the pictures. A dream home I thought and potentially a new start for me and my kids. I was so happy, what luck, I felt so elated.

Now, at this time, my best friend had just returned from a long trip to Asia. He was a bit of a hippie at heart and just suffered a marriage breakup, so he had jacked in his job to travel for a year. I had invited him over for a meal tonight and now had this wonderful news to share. So later that day, with the meal served on the table, my best friend sat next to me, I made a toast to life and told him the good news. His reaction though quickly wiped the big smile from my face – he just shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said “could be good, could be bad, who knows” and changed the subject to the meal we were eating. People can be strange I thought, perhaps he was jealous or perhaps he was sad I would be leaving, eitherway, I was still happy about the situation. We ate and had a pleasant dinner together.

Time passed quickly, I relinquished my rental property, organised removals, planned new schools for the children – thankfully it was summer – and even had a new job lined up for myself to start the week after the move. Everything was going perfect, until the day of the move. Carrying a heavy box up the stairs in my dream home, I slipped and the box fell with me underneath it. The result was a broken leg and me in hospital, the prognosis of a wheel chair for a while. Damn my luck I thought, how stupid of me to attempt to lift such a heavy box up the stairs, now all those plans could falter. I was distraught.

I was so sad, everything was now going wrong just as it looked to be going right. I lamented my fortune to my friend, explaining how I must be cursed to receive this event at such a time. His reaction, “Good, bad, who knows” and a change of subject back to practical matters. Hmmm, perhaps his trip had done funny things to his mind? I wanted both him and my children close, so offered for him to babysit my two kids in my new home.   However, whilst he agreed to look after my children he had an important job interview the next day so he would have to take them back with him tonight.  He promised to return at the weekend.

The next day he called me with then news that he had failed his interview and would be driving back to visit me earlier than planned.  What a waste of time it was for him to return for the interview I thought.  I tried to console him but he just said, “it could be good, could be bad, who knows”.

Another day passed, it was now the second day since my hospitalisation.  That morning I woke to a blaring loud television in my hospital room.  News reporters were giving briefings of an ongoing disaster, aparently there had been some kind of fire, scores of people were dead, helicopters were battling a blaze.  The fire was in the hills. Gradually, like a bad dream, the realisation hit me.  These images were the same hills as my new home. Sure enough, later that day, I received news that my new home had been burnt to the ground.

When my friend came to visit. He came in smiling and pointing at my legs. By this time I had lost my patience and shouted, “I have lost my new house, broken my leg and all you can do is laugh, what’s wrong with you!” He smiled gently and said, “good, bad”, but this time I would not let him finish, so I interrupted and shouted again, “What is it with you and this damn expression?” He sat gently next to me, grabbed my hand with tenderness and said, “My beloved friend, if you had not broken your leg, you would have been in that house with your children and you likely would have all be dead.”  Finally, I understood, took his hand and said, “and thank goodness you had a job interview, otherwise it would have been you dead instead”.

—–

I love the concept of this short story, it affects my thinking constantly. Often I find myself ‘suffering’ some event that seems negative and unfair but now I try to think to myself, wait, let’s see what happens, perhaps this might turn out to be a blessing rather than a curse.  Likewise something seemingly wonderful might turn out to be not quite the godsend it first appeared.

We just do not know the fullness of the story of life to make a judgement about events. Even a major crisis like a depression, while devastating at the time, can in the fullness of time transpire to be the birth of something unforseen and wonderful.

Peace and love.

PS If you like a happy ending, perhaps we could add I had insurance against fire. However, since we are all connected in this world, that’s good for me but bad for others who pay the insurance premiums (see A pie for an eye), but since they are also connected to me, they should be happy that we are all safer from having security.

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70 Comments »

  1. There are some of us who see the positives, some of us who the negatives and some of us see the possibilities of both. There were times that I thought my actions would benefit me in the long run, but ended up burning me. Hindsight really is 20/20.

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  2. There are some of us who see the positives, some of us who the negatives and some of us see the possibilities of both. There were times that I thought my actions would benefit me in the long run, but ended up burning me. Hindsight really is 20/20.

    Like

  3. Reminds me of my children’s favorite book, Zen Shorts. There is a story within it about a Chinese farmer and things kept happening to him on the farm. His neighbors would say, “what great luck!” or “what bad luck!” and he would reply, “maybe yes, maybe not” and everything would work out…or not.

    The lesson that I try and recall when faced with life not working how I want is that good luck is often wrapped in ugly wrap that looks like bad luck. The Universe works in mysterious way and it’s best to just get out the popcorn and have a seat…it’s going to be a good show.

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    • I will definitely read the story. I have heard three versions previously, one about a king that loses a finger (old Buddhist version), one about a man that is given a car (eckhart tolle version) and one about a farmer and a horse (old Chinese version).

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  4. Reminds me of my children’s favorite book, Zen Shorts. There is a story within it about a Chinese farmer and things kept happening to him on the farm. His neighbors would say, “what great luck!” or “what bad luck!” and he would reply, “maybe yes, maybe not” and everything would work out…or not.

    The lesson that I try and recall when faced with life not working how I want is that good luck is often wrapped in ugly wrap that looks like bad luck. The Universe works in mysterious way and it’s best to just get out the popcorn and have a seat…it’s going to be a good show.

    Like

    • I will definitely read the story. I have heard three versions previously, one about a king that loses a finger (old Buddhist version), one about a man that is given a car (eckhart tolle version) and one about a farmer and a horse (old Chinese version).

      Like

    • Hi Cindy, The horse version I have read before, it’s a good tale, shorter too which is sometimes helpful. There is also a version about a King hunting and Eckhart tolls tells another version. I tried to make a bit more contemporary, glad it kind of worked 🙂

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    • Hi Cindy, The horse version I have read before, it’s a good tale, shorter too which is sometimes helpful. There is also a version about a King hunting and Eckhart tolls tells another version. I tried to make a bit more contemporary, glad it kind of worked 🙂

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  5. That from manure one can grow vegetables does not change the nature of manure. Out of a most horrible event in my life I manufactured responses that discovered in myself rewards of such grace that nothing in my life before or since could compare but the essence of the horror remains as a spectre of what could have been and so much lost in consequence. Twenty years have past since that frightful terror has disappeared but the horror lies dormant under quotidian onslaught to arise in my dreams to give evidence it remains in the marrow of my bones.

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  6. That from manure one can grow vegetables does not change the nature of manure. Out of a most horrible event in my life I manufactured responses that discovered in myself rewards of such grace that nothing in my life before or since could compare but the essence of the horror remains as a spectre of what could have been and so much lost in consequence. Twenty years have past since that frightful terror has disappeared but the horror lies dormant under quotidian onslaught to arise in my dreams to give evidence it remains in the marrow of my bones.

    Like

  7. I manufacture all sorts of philosophies asI learn to live with what comes my way. One of my most useful ones is to accept myself for what I am and whatever the hell stomps on my hopes. Life is very short and I must carpenter whatever tools I can scrabble together to make it to tomorrow morning. I am well aware that tomorrow morning may never come but if that occurs I won’t care.

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  8. I manufacture all sorts of philosophies asI learn to live with what comes my way. One of my most useful ones is to accept myself for what I am and whatever the hell stomps on my hopes. Life is very short and I must carpenter whatever tools I can scrabble together to make it to tomorrow morning. I am well aware that tomorrow morning may never come but if that occurs I won’t care.

    Like

  9. A great story, with a still greater message.

    Yes, I’ve been working to live my life simply believing that I will invite into it the experiences that will benefit me in terms of my overall growth, while putting aside the judgements of good/bad. Not easy, but a better way to view this adventure, I feel.

    Like

  10. A great story, with a still greater message.

    Yes, I’ve been working to live my life simply believing that I will invite into it the experiences that will benefit me in terms of my overall growth, while putting aside the judgements of good/bad. Not easy, but a better way to view this adventure, I feel.

    Like

  11. I am so mad about an accident my family just went through, but I guess now I’ll wait for things to work out on their own. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

    Like

  12. I am so mad about an accident my family just went through, but I guess now I’ll wait for things to work out on their own. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

    Like

  13. Your story touched my soul, you and your kids are blessed and well guarded! I usually say “it will be good” because I don’t think bad exists. It might seem like a bad situation at times but the end will always be a good one, no matter what! Thank you for sharing this story!

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  14. Your story touched my soul, you and your kids are blessed and well guarded! I usually say “it will be good” because I don’t think bad exists. It might seem like a bad situation at times but the end will always be a good one, no matter what! Thank you for sharing this story!

    Like

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