Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Good Luck or Bad Luck, Too Soon to Tell

Once upon a time in ancient China, there lived an old man and his son who was in his twenties. Father and son tilled the field with their trusty but old and frail horse. This white horse had been part of the family for over ten years, toiling together without complaint with father and son for just a handful of oats every day. Father, son and horse were very attached to one another.

You can imagine the father and son’s dismal when one day, old faithful suddenly bolted towards the hills and disappeared over the horizon. The son chased after the horse but it was too late.

The son threw up his arms in despair, staring at the hills far away, and cried out: “What bad luck! What are we to do now? We have nothing to help us work the fields.”

The old man looked at his son with steady eyes and calmly mused: “Bad luck or good luck, too soon to tell.”

The old man then went to look for ways to plough the field without their horse.

A week had passed since old faithful ran away. Father and son were in the fields working the soil with hoes and their bare hands. It was back breaking work under the scorching sun.

They then heard that familiar neigh in the distance. When they looked up, they saw old faithful on a ridge trotting slowly at first and then galloping towards them.

Old man and son next heard the thunderous hooves of a dozen horses. To their amazement, ten wild horses followed old faithful and ran towards the old man and son’s farm. The herd of wild horses stopped at the farm and were contented to graze on the green, juicy grass.

The wild horses looked young and strong. Their teeth were white and clean. Their eyes were bright. Their thighs were well toned and there was a shiny, healthy sheen on their hide.

When the neighbours saw what happened, they were envious of the old man’s good fortune. They said: “You are such lucky people. Now you have more than ten good and strong horses to work the fields for you.”

The old man smiled politely and said: “Good luck or bad luck, too soon to tell.”

A few days later while the son was taming one of the wild horses, the black stallion stood up on its hide legs and punched its front legs in the air like a boxer - while the son was still on the saddle! The horse’s prancing antics threw the son off its back. He seemed to fly through the air for a moment before falling to the ground like a sack of potatoes with a loud thump!
The son landed on his buttocks. He let off such a loud, shrill, piercing scream that his neighbours could hear and feel his pain from hundreds of metres away . The pain was excruciating. When the neigbhours reached him, they found the son on the ground wrying in agony.

The villagers rushed the son to the doctor and he confirmed that the fall had broken the son’s hip. He was lucky that his neck was not broken.

“What bad luck!” the son cried out. The villagers who knew what happened to the son, took pity on him. "What an unfortunate accident" they said. But the old man remained serene and unfazed. He again mused: “Bad luck, good luck, too soon to tell.”

While the son was still bed ridden, war suddenly broke out with the barbarians in the north. The emperor’s army marched into the village and conscripted all the able bodied young men in the village for the war.
The old man’s son was spared as he could not even stand up with his broken hip.

The war went badly for the emperor and all the young men from the village did not survive to come home.

The old man and his son became the only people left to work the fields of the entire village. Yes, with the help of their ten horses and old faithful.

Is this good luck, or bad? Again the old man said: “Good luck, bad luck, too soon to tell.”

The puzzled and bewildered villagers finally asked the old man to explain his trademark remarks.
The wise old man replied: “Life is like this. Sometimes things that looked bad at first may later turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Knowing this, it’ll serve us well to look for opportunity in every crisis.

Instead of wallowing in self pity when met with setbacks, ask what benefits can I get out of my current predicament. Ask "What is this an opportunity for?" With this mindset, you’ll find that any bad luck will turn to good luck.

Things happen, and it is what we do with what happens to us that makes the difference.

So the next time something momentous happens to you, stop and pause a moment to choose your course of action instead of letting the situation you are in determine your feelings, and thus your actions.

In the same way, when our situation is rosy, remember that there is danger in every good fortune. Be alert to dangers when things are going well. Don’t be caught off guard, like my son who was thrown from his favourite horse."

"Ah yes" the villagers agreed in unison. 

"Good luck, bad luck, too soon to tell.”


  1. Thank you for your kind encouragement. I am glad that you find it useful too ;D

  2. Thank you for your encouragement ;D

  3. ABSOLUTELY. Truth or false, right or wrong, time will tell......