I remember the day I discovered the work of Alan Watts. My overwhelming thoughts while reading A Wisdom of Insecurity was that a more peaceful and contented inner self is possible. And then I sought out everything I could from him, and his way of bringing Eastern Philosophy to the Western world has brought me a lot of comfort.
I bought this band with the word Maybe on it after reading the following story told by Alan Watts:
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.”
The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”
The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.”
The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbours came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”
The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it’s really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad — because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.
Ultimately, what this story gave me is the possibility of a completely different mindset to approach life with. Catastrophising has been a massive cognitive distortion (one of many)! that took up so much of my brain power contributing to a lot of worries. But this perspective of ‘maybe’ is something that I can use to calm my mind.
The Maybe band:
- reminds me that maybe nothing in life is good or bad, maybe we never really know the consequences of a situation or an event, even though at the time we perceive it one way or the other.
- reminds me not to ascribe good and bad as moral judgements.
- reminds me not to create stories in my head that then create an unhealthy reality
- reminds me that we don’t know what good fortune or misfortune is. There are lots of events that we can take as a misfortune but then turn into opportunities.
- helps me to trust that everything that happens, happens exactly how it is supposed to happen, and it’s exactly what I need at that time….I will learn the lesson from it or take the opportunity from it.
Maybe, we need all experiences we have to become the people we are supposed to become.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.