PERSPECTIVE & OTHER HARD TO TAME BEASTS. MAYBE...

So to start off today's post I am gonna share with you a short story that has been invaluable to me throughout my life.

It's a story that I have told many people at times when they were faced with great uncertainty.

You may be wondering does he really say things in real life, yup! I also9 constantly hand out awful, self improvement style quotes like:

Better to have a short pencil than a long memory. Some colleagues at work find it amusing, others likely just hate that weirdo with all the quotes, C'est la vie, right?

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I first heard it relayed by the late Alan Watts, the philosopher, author, & speaker famous for translating Eastern philosophy & teachings to a western audience in a way that was relatable & assimilable.

The story of the Chinese farmer.

Once there was a Chinese farmer, who lost a horse after it ran away.
That evening All of his neighbours came around.
"Oh that's terrible luck" they said.
"Maybe". Replied the farmer.

The next day the horse returned brought several wild horses with it.
That evening All of his neighbours came around.
"Oh that's wonderful" they said.
"Maybe". Replied the farmer.

The next morning, his Son while out attempting to tame one of the horses was thrown from the saddle, crashed to the ground beneath him & broke his leg.
Once again, due to the nature of the close-knit community, his neighbours came around.
"Oh that's awful, isn't it?" they said.
"Maybe". Replied the farmer.

The next day, at dawn the conscription officers came round, banging on doors, looking for young men to forcibly sign up to fight in the war. They rejected his Son due to his being incapacitated.
That evening All of his neighbours came around.
"Oh, what were the chances, isn't that fortuitous," they said.
"Maybe". Replied the farmer...

Although I placed the story in quotes it is not a perfect retelling as I have heard it slightly different many times. It is however close enough to the original for the message to shine through clearly.

I guess it is more of a parable than a story in actual fact as those few words hold within them much wisdom to impart & a valuable lesson for those who are willing to receive it.

So let me give an example or 2 about the times I have shared this story with family & friends to help them gain a wider view & some much-needed perspective at a time when their anxiety levels were through the roof.

So let's start with the most recent occasion, just a couple of weeks back when I was chatting to a very close friend who had found out that after his furlough from work ended he would no longer be required... Bloody Covid has a lot to answer for, right?

In his mind, the facts were thus: I have effectively lost my job. I am not going to be able to afford my rent & my Daughters birthday is just 3 months away. How can I pay my bills? This sucks, it's the worst possible thing that could have happened to me.

Sometimes you are just too close to a situation to gain any perspective.

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Now here's something you need to know about me. If I am your friend I will never give you BS, I won't just tell you the things you want to hear. I am not the kind of guy who will just say "Oh there there, isn't life awful. I will tell you the truth. I don't mess with those I love or care for, I am not that kind of guy, & everybody, I mean EVERYBODY thanks me afterward. In the heat of the moment, they may be a little frustrated with me for being 'trademark Steven blunt'.

I had a different assessment of the facts of my mate's situation & I told him so.

You hate your job anyway. You have been talking forever about 2 different positions that offer 'on the job' training for what you really want to do. You constantly say how you are struggling to make ends meet & that you cannot stay there for long anyway because of this.

He nodded in agreement to every point I made (& there were more, I would make an excellent defense attorney) I say defense because you would not want me acting for the prosecution if I were building the case!!!

But here's the kicker, I say this next part to everyone who loses their job... You have a 50/50 chance of ending up in a better situation than you are in right now. I also say this to those who are on the bad end of a break-up.

9 times out of 10 people who are dumped (to use the colloquial expression) when asked usually agree that the relationship wasn't particularly going anywhere productive. They didn't get on all that well with their significant other & they often felt disregarded, unloved, or taken for granted, or worse.

That's not a healthy & nurturing environment to stay in anyway, now is it? So chances are the relationship was getting ready to take a bow & was probably just put out of its misery a little later than should have been the case.

Once again you have a 50/50 chance of finding yourself in a better situation than the one that just ended.

I love those odds, don't you?

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Now, there is a risk that I have made myself sound like a coldly logical, empathy bereft psychopathic robot with what I have told you so far.

That's not it. Of course, I understand that people are upset, shocked, & blindsided when such big life events spiral out of control & leave them feeling nervous & uncertain. I'm not a blithering idiot.

I know however that there will be enough people around to pander to that side of things & lament with them about how awful things are & how brutal life is & just how unfair the entire situation is.

I perform a different function, I am the guy who takes you aside & breaks down a situation & looks for the positive outcomes, & tries to offer some constructive advice on how to move beyond the pain, shock & sadness.

I would hope friends & family would do the same for me.

One of these conversations results in you feeling washed along on the tide of random events that you have no control over. It also reinforces the belief that things really are terrible & leaves you wallowing in a situation no better than before.

The other gives you a valuable overview of why this could actually be a potentially good thing & hopefully leaves you with a roadmap to a more empowered, more fulfilled life.

Most important the parable of the Chinese farmer teaches us that we have no conceivable notion of whether an event is a good one or a bad one beyond the obvious assumptions that we would ordinarily make.

Imagine if a raging alcoholic won the lottery, it is easy to see how his initially perceived good fortune could turn against him in a heartbeat & create a far more stark reality than he could ever have anticipated.

Beforehand he used to hold down a job, have work/life structure, & only drink when his family had gone to bed at night. Now he does not have to go to work & has almost unlimited funds to drink himself to death in short order, the party can go on 24 hours a day with his new millionaire status.

Or perhaps consider Carol whose 30-year marriage broke down after her husband's infidelity was discovered. She & her philandering hubby used to work in the same grocery store & now she cannot face the prospect of staying there as it would be just too painful to stay there.

In a few short weeks, her life has become a living nightmare as she has lost not only her marriage which she always believed to be a happy one but also her job & as she cannot afford the rent of the home they once shared on her meager wage she needs to look for an inexpensive place to live also.

Fast forward 6 months & we find Carol working at a local animal shelter, she has always adored animals & can often be found taking home a sick kitten or hedgehog to look after it as it recuperates. She loves going to work every day, the job is incredibly rewarding &it brings her a lot of joy to know the good work they do.

Lately, Carol has enjoyed work even more as she has become very friendly with Dan the owner of the shelter, also a recent divorcee they have been out for drinks a few times after work & next Saturday they are going to the theatre together & for a fancy meal at an exclusive restaurant afterward...

Sadly Carol is a fictional character who was derived from my mind so I cannot tell her that through the time-distorting gift of my imagination that in just 6 months more she will move in with Dan after they fall deeply in love & marry shortly after.

Can you imagine if she could have foreseen all that just 12 months earlier? She has a beautiful future ahead of her;

Maybe...

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If you can step back from a situation that you find yourself in, take a breath, & retain a sense of perspective you will likely live a more fulfilling life. For the most part you will feel more in control of events rather than they being in control of you.

I hope my message today does not sound overly simplistic, we are all gathered up in the heat of emotion at times, that is pretty natural, how we react after a little thought can make all the difference in the world.

Try not to get too swept up in the highs & the lows of life. Give gratitude for the good stuff, try & move on quickly from the bad & remember that all of these things are merely steps on the pathway to who knows where...

Thank YOU for taking the time to read my post & if you're one of those amazing people who like to hit the comments section... Then I doubly thank YOU!

Either way, I want you to know that you are appreciated!

Keep taking the time to connect with each other both here & in the 'so-called' real world & try & look after each other, because as you already know...

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I am an incredibly proud member of #TeamUK I love the global community immensely, but it is nice to have a home-team banner to add to my posts. The banner was made by the inimitable Roastmaster General himself @c0ff33a If you are an active UK member & would like to be added to the team UK community on Discord, just let me know 😎

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