A very dear friend of mine commented on my Wisdom and Luck, and she made a lot of sense, so I want to acknowledge and elaborate. Here is her comment:
An old Zen story goes like this: An old Chinese farmer had a mare that broke through the fence and ran away. When his neighbors learned of it, they came to the farmer and said, “What bad luck this is. You don’t have a horse during planting season.” The farmer listened and then replied, “Bad luck, good luck. Who knows?”
A few days later, the mare returned with two stallions. When the neighbors learned of it, they visited the farmer. “You are now a rich man. What good fortune this is,” they said. The farmer listened and again replied, “Good fortune, bad fortune. Who knows?”
Later that day, the farmer’s only son was thrown from one of the stallions and broke his leg. When the neighbors heard about it, they came to the farmer. “It is planting season and now there is no one to help you,” they said. “This is truly bad luck.” The farmer listened, and once more he said, “Bad luck, good luck. Who knows?”
The very next day, the emperor’s army rode into the town and conscripted the eldest son in every family. Only the farmer’s son with his broken leg remained behind. Soon the neighbors arrived. Tearfully, they said, “Yours is the only son who was not taken from his family and sent to war. What good fortune this is…”
I interpret this story as “It’s All Good.” Even if it isn’t a “good time”, it will most often turn out to be a “good experience’.
Thanks, clembo, for sending this story, to remind me that everything works out for the good, and “Bad luck,” as I wrote it, instead becomes a good lesson. I appreciate the self-talk reminder — I need to watch out for negative self-talk, even when talking about the past!
Seeing my encounter with Dr. W., all those years ago, as anything but bad luck is a hard concept. I allowed my life to fall apart, and I allowed that prediction to influence me decades longer than I had to; in fact, I have decided not to let anyone influence me that strongly ever again. The good lesson that I’ve learned is to be immune to the unkind words of others, and to think and feel and make my own decisions. I think that will do.