Living With Uncertainty

Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.

– John Allen Paulos

I love to tell this classic Zen story to my clients who are struggling with what seems to them in the moment to be difficult times. I have been around long enough to know that nothing is permanent, neither"good things" nor "bad things." In fact, as Hamlet said, "There's nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so." We can just try to keep our equanimity in the face of intense times, and be open to the possibility that we don't always know how to interpret what's happening right now...Most times in hindsight the difficulties bring gifts...

A farmer who has a beautiful black horse gets a visit from his neighbor who admires the fine animal, and says, " Oh, it is so fortunate that you have this amazing horse!” The farmer non-committally says, “Maybe it is, maybe it's not.”

The next day the horse runs away. The neighbor comes over to offer his sympathy. “Oh, how sad it is that you’ve now lost your horse.” Again, the farmer says, “Maybe it is, maybe it's not.”

The next day the horse returns to the farmer, bringing a new mare with him. The neighbor rushes over to congratulate the farmer. “Oh, how fortunate! Now you have two horses!” The farmer replies as before, “Maybe it is, maybe it is not.”

The next day the farmer’s son is out riding the mare to break it in; the mare throws him and he badly breaks his arm. The neighbor comes over as before, “Oh, how terrible! Your son is hurt!” The farmer replies, “Maybe it is, maybe it's not".

A month later the army comes through the area recruiting soldiers. They can’t accept the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. The neighbor again comes over to sympathize, “Oh, how fortunate! Your son doesn’t have to go into the army!” The farmer again replies, “Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.”

This story goes on and on. When we learn to trust life and to keep a higher perspective about any particular event; we

can live with inner peace.

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