Maybe Good, Maybe Bad

There was once a young man who lived in a very poor village in China. But because the family owned a horse, they were considered wealthy. One day, while out for a ride, the boy stopped to rest, and his horse ran away.

On his return home, the villagers went to his father to express their sorrow for the family’s great loss. “Very bad luck!” they cried. The sage-like father shook his head and calmly said, “Maybe good. Maybe bad.”

The following day, the boy went out to hunt for the missing horse, and to his great joy found a herd of wild horses, which he was able to round up and bring back to the village. The excited villagers exclaimed, “What great fortune—your luck has returned!” The wise elder again calmly said, “Maybe good. Maybe bad.”

The next morning, while trying to tame one of the wild horses, the boy was trampled and left crippled.

The loss of a healthy son is indeed a sign of bad luck.

And when the village people saw the young man’s mangled leg, they went to the father to express their sympathy for his change in fortune. The elder man’s reply was the same: “Maybe good. Maybe bad.”

Within the week, the Chinese army marched into the village and rounded up all the able-bodied young men—to take away to war.