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It is what it is

by Jill Sockman

About a week ago, a friend came for a visit. We were talking about life, change, perspective. She reminded me of a of a Zen proverb I’d heard long ago and since forgotten.

The story is of an old farmer in a remote village in China. He was the only man in the whole area who was given a horse to help work the fields.

“This is good!” said the neighbors.

“Maybe good, maybe bad,” replied the farmer, “It just is.”

One day, the horse got free and ran away.

“This is bad!” cried the neighbors.

“Maybe good, maybe bad,” replied the farmer, “It just is.”

Adjusting to work without the horse, everyone was surprised when a few days later the horse returned, bringing another horse with him.

“This is good!” exclaimed the neighbors.

“Maybe good, maybe bad,” replied the farmer, “It just is.”

Hoping to train the new horse, the old farmer’s son got up to ride the horse and fell and broke his leg.

“This is bad!” cried the neighbors.

“Maybe good, maybe bad,” replied the farmer, “It just is.”

The very next day, the Chinese government sent officers to the small farming village to conscript all the young men into service to fight a terrible war. The farmer’s son was the only young man spared, since his leg was broken and he could not fight.

“This is good!” exclaimed the neighbors.

“Maybe good, maybe bad,” replied the farmer, “It just is.”

And so it goes…

My catch-all phrase is often “it is what it is” and this parable catches that spirit of moving away from our attachment to things going how we think they should go. It is the spirit of moving away from duality and the roller coaster ride of good and bad. And it is a lifetime — or many lifetimes — of work.

And so we do our best to try to stay in the moment, taking each step as it comes, with the least resistance, and as much acceptance as we can muster. It just is.


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