Worrying Possible Setbacks into Certain Hiroshimas

It must be ten years ago I first read the Parable of the Chinese Farmer. Yesterday during my routine of worrying possible setbacks into certain Hiroshimas, I thought of the wise farmer again and tried to imitate him. Here’s the parable as retold by Evelyn Theiss of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

702px-Farmer_near_Xi'an_(2)

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A Chinese farmer gets a horse, which soon runs away. A neighbor says, “That’s bad news.” The farmer replies, “Good news, bad news, who can say?”



The horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news, you might say.

The farmer gives the second horse to his son, who rides it, then is thrown and badly breaks his leg.

“So sorry for your bad news,” says the concerned neighbor. “Good news, bad news, who can say?” the farmer replies.

In a week or so, the emperor’s men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer’s son is spared.



Good news, of course.

Horse watching

Horse watching (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

And the parable goes on in the reader’s imagination. Obviously, I’m supposed to find peace in the steady, centered farmer. With as much as I pray and rest my soul and body at midday, you’d think I’d be radiating om. Ha! I was a wreck. That is to say, I am a wreck. There you go. There’s the truth.

I don’t make this confession to get sympathy. I tell the truth here because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who genuinely appreciates all the beauty he sees each day but also occasionally feels like he’s walking through the world without the protection of skin.

To all of my sisters and brothers who are addicted to worry, who take far too much to heart . . . grace and peace. We’re not alone.

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11 thoughts on “Worrying Possible Setbacks into Certain Hiroshimas

  1. Thinking about last Thursday, John, and your kindness that night before the service. That was probably the most stressful day of my life. I’m glad I removed my name.

    • Yeah, it was clear you had the weight of a dying star on your shoulders. I’m glad you feel good about the choice you made. Peace, John

    • Retired professors never die, they just . . . fade away in their Vette! Thanks a lot for following, Mike. Means a lot to me. Peace, John

    • Thanks for the comment. Yeah, “free-floating anxiety around the edges”: what a great way of putting it. Peace, Johyn

  2. Thanks John. Appreicated your thought that, “the parable goes on in the reader’s imagination.” Our imaginings can often take us to many different destinations of varying degrees including anxiety and joy.

    • Thanks, Andy. And it’s always amazing to me how much of my life takes place in my imagination rather than in the real world. Weird, huh?

  3. Pessimists and worriers are more likely to take care of both body and soul, because they are not optimists who believe everything will turn out well. I worry, especially in the wee hours when my mind just will not let me sleep. So, occasionally I get up, make a hot tea or coffee, sit in my favorite chair, and read until sleep overtakes me. Most of the “worries” are about inconsequential things, but when the mind is off and running, ’tis best to give in and join the chase. Writing down small concerns also helps.

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