Tibetan man with his yak at Yangpachen, Namtso
Gift #4: April Showers bring May flowers
Everything has a season, Everything has a reason
Had Steve Jobs not been fired from Apple, he would not have met his wife, and bought Pixar, which made him a billionaire. [This is according to his commencement address.]
In Chinese, there’s an expression that comes close to the English idiom, every cloud has a silver lining. In every terrible circumstance, there’s a tiny sliver of hope of something good that may come as a result.
塞翁失马 [sai weng si ma, yan zi feifu]
The expression 塞翁失马 literally means Sai Weng lost his horse and comes from 《淮南子》written by Liu An in the Western Han Dynasty. An old man called Sai Weng lost his horse, but when others came to comfort him, he said, “I have only lost a horse, and this is not a big loss. Maybe something good will come of it in future.” And so it came to pass – a few days later, his horse returned followed by another good horse.
Although from the story my mom told me, it continues that one day, his son sat on the new horse and was thrown off this wild horse. His son became a cripple. When neighbours came to console him, how is he going to start his own family? No one will want a husband like that? The man said, its not a big loss. Perhaps something good will come of it. Several years later, the country went to war with a neighbouring country, and all the able-bodied men in the village were enlisted. But because his son was a cripple, he was spared and able to marry a young woman of his dreams. Perhaps the story has other twists and turns.
The Chinese saying, is usually twined with a question “Is this good or bad?”
Was colonialism good or bad for Singapore?
When World War II came, and the British came, and the Japanese occupied Singapore, was it good or bad?
When Singapore was expelled from the merger, was it good or bad?
When the British withdrew from Singapore in 1971, was it good or bad?
As I looked back at my own life, whenever I face a setback, fear crept in. At times, I was even paralyzed with fear and depression. Be positive, pull yourself by your boot-straps, friends tell me. They are not wrong. But somehow I couldn’t muster the courage to positive thinking.
I’ve come to learn that adverse situations are pivotal circumstances and contain seeds of new growth = turning points. Life-changing experiences take place, when I’m not preoccupied with grumbling. I’m not trying to justify the works of evil people. They will be judged in their own time. Whatever man meant for evil, God can turn it to good.
My response to such adverse circumstances in future?
Ask: What is the lesson that I am supposed to learn from this situation? What is my responsibility? Did I contribute to this problem? What can I do differently? [Which leads me to Gift #5 – Learn something new.]
What do I have to mourn and move on?
10 years later, when I look back, what can I give thanks for now?
Are there qualities, growth that I have gained?
Having a routine helps in adversity. And friends.
What are the lessons adversity has taught you? Let me hear from you.
Don’t judge each day by your harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant. – Robert Louis Steveson