There is an old Taoist parable. It begins with a poor farmer in ancient China who worked a small plot of land with his teenage son. During this time horses were considered a sign of wealth; the richest person in the province owned no more than a few of them. One day a wild horse jumped the poor farmer’s fence and began grazing on his land. According to local law, this meant that the horse now rightfully belonged to him and his family. The son could hardly contain his joy, but the father put his hand on his son’s shoulder and said, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” The next day the horse made its escape back to the mountains and the boy was heartbroken. “Who knows what’s good or bad?” his father said again. On the third day the horse returned with a dozen wild horses following. “We’re rich!” the son cried, to which the father again replied, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” On the fourth day the boy climbed on one of the wild horses and was thrown, breaking his leg. His father ran to get the doctor; soon both of them were attending to the boy, who was upset and in a great deal of pain. The old farmer looked deeply into his son’s eyes, and said, “My son, who knows what is good or bad?” And on the fifth day the province went to war. Army recruiters came through the town and took all the eligible young men to fight the war. All except for the young man with the broken leg.
This is such a beautiful illustration of why it’s relevent to suspend judgment, conclusions and assumptions about anything. Judgements and the like don’t reflect the bigger picture. We don’t always know in the heat of any moment, what is good what is bad. What is a blessing, what is a gift, what is a challenge in the moment that provides further expansion for us later. We don’t always know, but we can remain open. We can lay aside the impulse to make any seeming fact mean anything. We can trust that the nature of all things is continually unfolding – and perhaps find a lot more ease in this open and receptive place.