The story of “Maybe”

A long time ago, there lived a farmer in a poor village in rural China. The farmer owned a horse which he used for plowing and for transportation. One day, his horse ran away. All his neighbors exclaimed how terrible, but the farmer just said, “Maybe.”
A few days later, his horse returned, and brought a couple of wild horses with him. The neighbors all rejoiced at his good fortune, but the farmer simply said, “Maybe.”
The next day, the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses. But the horse threw him off and broke his leg. The neighbors all offered their sympathy for the misfortune. Yet, the farmer again said, “Maybe.”
The next week, conscription officers came to the village to take the young men for the army. They rejected the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. When the neighbors told him how lucky he was, the farmer replied, “Maybe.”

Ever since I read this Taoist story of maybe, it has had a profound effect on my basic thought process. There is no absolute good nor bad things in life as long as we’re alive. Our story continues, and depending on our perception, what seems unfortunate on the surface can lead to something very fortunate.

The opposite is true, too. All the happily ever after stories we’ve read in our youth are mere chapters of the whole story.

What makes our stories happier is our perception, in other words. Positive views can lead to more favorable outcomes.