A Taoist Fable – “Maybe”

There was an old Chinese farmer who lived in a country village, and he and his son worked the fields with their old horse.

One day the horse ran away to the hills, and the village people came to the old man to offer sympathy. They said, “It is such an unlucky thing that your horse has run off.” The old man simply replied, “Maybe.”

A week later, the old man’s horse returned and brought with it several wild stallions. All the people from the village came to the old man, saying, “It is such a lucky thing.” The old man replied, “Maybe.”

The next day, the old man’s son tried to tame one of the wild horses, and was thrown and broke his leg. Again the villagers came, “What an unlucky thing.” The old man again replied, “Maybe.”

Three days later, army officials came to conscribe the young men of the village into military service. Seeing the son’s broken leg, he was the only youth not drafted. The villagers came once again, “What a lucky thing.”

The old man just replied, “Maybe.”