This week I attended a Lunch Hour with Jess Keating on Instagram. She is an author, artist, and creative coach. I think her most recent book to date is the second book in a series of graphic novels called BunBun and BonBon.
Jess is very talented and makes “inspiring” look easy. During her Lunch Hour, she said that many things can be either bad or good, you just don’t know how things will end up. “Shift your attitude” toward something positive, and that little change in thought could lead to a bigger change in action.
When Jess spoke, I recalled a Chinese folktale that I heard first from, I think it was, Sid Lieberman. As it happens, Jess was going there all along. I couldn’t repeat the story the way she told it, but as I remember, it goes something like this:
A farmer in a Chinese province had a single horse to help with his work. When the horse ran away, the neighbors gathered and said, “What misfortune! Now you will have to plow your fields by hand.” But the farmer’s wise father remarked, “How do youknow it is not fortune?” The following day the farmer found the horse in the company of 7 wild horses, and a stallion among them. The neighbors gathered to marvel, “What fortune! Now you can sell them as workhorses and you’ll be rich.” But the father only replied, “How do you know it is not misfortune?” The farmer proceeded to break in his horses, but when he mounted the stallion it threw him. The farmer’s leg shattered. The neighbors gathered to express their grief, “What misfortune! Now you have no way to work at all.” The father only said, “How do you know it is not fortune?” When soldiers arrived at the province they gathered all the young men who could fight but left the man whose leg was shattered. The neighbors gathered to tell him how fortunate he was to stay home from war. Again the father shook his head and said, “How do you know?”