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The Parable of Maybe

The Parable of Maybe
Angelo Coppola

Many of us struggle with issues of control (or lack of control). We wish to run our lives like puppet masters pulling the  marionettes’ strings. Each movement calculated. Each line rehearsed. Every story neatly tidied up before the curtain closes.

On the other hand, how many times have we, in hindsight, credited our most difficult times with having built our character, making us who we are today?

Similarly, sometimes we look back at past successes or times of plenty and we deem them as lacking some key ingredient, which was why lasting fulfillment eluded us.

Even knowing all of this, we still can’t resist judging our present situations. Everything, we insist, must be classified as good or bad.

Have you ever noticed that both judgments can stress us out? These good times can’t last forever, we lament. Or, these times of despair will never end, others have it so much better than me.

Check out this brilliantly animated parable about a Chinese Farmer as delivered by Alan Watts—it’s only a couple of minutes long. I first heard him tell this story over a decade ago, and Istill think of it often. Your ideas about control may change, as may how heavily you invest in judging the fleeting circumstances of everyday life.

The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity. And, it is really impossible to tell whether anything happens in it is good or bad, because you never know what will be the consequences of a misfortune—or you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.

—Alan Watts