Misfortune might be a blessing in disguise

(Image is from internet 塞翁失马)

Long time ago, an old man of foresight lived at the northern border of China.  People called him Old Sai. He and his son made a living by raising horses.

One day, Old Sai’s servant reported to him that one of the horses bolted away to the hostile neighboring state.  All Old Sai’s friends and neighbors felt sorry for his loss. To their surprise, Old Sai wasn’t bothered at all. On the contrary, he said with a smile, “Losing a horse is a bad thing.  But who knows?  Maybe it’ll bring a good thing.”

Several months later, the missing horse returned home safely, and it also brought back a fine horse from the neighboring state.   Hearing the good news, all Old Sai’s friends and neighbors came to compliment him.  But the old man was not happy about this windfall.  Instead, he frowned and said with worry, “Getting a fine horse for nothing may not be a good thing.”

Sure enough, the misfortune happened several months later.  Old Sai’s son liked riding on horses.  One day, while riding the fine horse out, the son fell off and broke his leg. He became a cripple.

When Old Sai’s friends and neighbors heard of this accident, they hurried to his house to comfort him.  Contrary to their expectations, Old Sai was not very sad. He said calmly, “although it is a bad thing that my son broke his leg, but who knows. It may result in a good thing.”

Old Sai’s friends and neighbors felt his words were without rhyme or reason.  Although Old Sai’s prophecies used to turn out quite accurate, they were highly doubted this time because they could not foresee anything good to happen with the young man’s disability.

A year later, the neighboring state sent troops across the border. All the young men were drafted to fight against the invaders, and most of them died on the battlefield.  Old Sai’s son was not drafted because he was crippled.  Both Old Sai and the son survived the war.

By then, Old Sai’s friends and neighbors understood the wisdom of Old Sai’s words.


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