In “The Power of Flow”, Charlene Belitz and Meg Lundsrom retell the classic Chinese story of a farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields, until it escaped into the hills. His neighbors sympathized with him over his bad luck, but he replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills, and this time his neighbors congratulated him on his good luck. His reply again: “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

When his son attempted to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they passed him by. Was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

I came across a quote a few days ago that put me in mind of this story in a way I hadn’t thought about before:

All wisdom is rooted in learning to call things by the right name.”

— Kung-fu Tze

How can we decide on the true meaning of an experience if we haven’t had time to evaluate it from a different perspective? So many times we assume that something is “wrong” or “bad” for us if it doesn’t feel comfortable, or conversely, believe that something is “good” if it’s what we think we wanted to happen.

We really can’t know what’s for our highest well-being unless we remain open and don’t judge prematurely. The names we give to things often are a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We need to stay in the flow, without making assumptions, and try to name things from a place of wisdom.

One Response to "The Power of Flow"

  1. Lauren

    October 15, 2007

    So, so true.

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