We Shall See: My Adaptation of a Chinese Proverb

A boy was born into a family in a Tibetan village.  It was an agrarian village.  To earn a living you were either going to tend the fields or tend the herd, but the boy was born with a cleft foot.  So the villagers gathered around his families yurt and said: what a curse on your family that the boy is going to be a drain on your resources, he’ll never earn a living.  But the wiseman of the village happened by and said we shall see, we shall see.

In the villages of the region there was nearly no literacy.  The wiseman in the village was the only one that could read and write, so to communicate with other villages, one would pay the wiseman to write a letter to be sent or read a letter that was received, and since the young boy could not go and play with the other kids the wise man took him as an apprentice and by the age of 7 he was able to both read and write and earn a better living than he would have at 18 working in the fields and the villagers gathered around his families yurt and proclaimed what a blessing on your family that the boy is able to make such a fine living at such a young age.  And the wiseman came along and said we shall see, we shall see.

Some years past and the boy was 12 and he had finally made some friends his own age who were going to go horseback riding.  The boy thought this was something he could do and so he pleaded with his mother to be allowed to go.  She worried he had no experience and would get hurt, but she finally acquiesced to his pleas.  While trying to keep up with his friends who were experienced the boy fell and broke his writing arm.  And the villagers gathered around and said what a curse on your family that for a time you are without your income.  And the wiseman who had come to check on his protégé said we shall see, we shall see.

Days later the war lord of the region came through to subscribe every able bodied young man 12 and older to go off and fight the war, but because he could not march and he could not write the boy would simply be a drain on the military and was left behind as so many went off to fight and possibly die and the villagers gathered around his yurt and said, with much weeping for their sons, what a blessing that you’ve been spared and the wiseman said we shall see, we shall see.

Absent the fullness of time it is not possible to know if the moment is a blessing or curse – is the firing from a job the catalyst to launch the entrepreneur, the heart ache of break up the moment that leads to the enduring love of a life time?  

Ours is to learn from the experience, be true to ourselves and not believe the headlines (either good or bad), because the headlines are often far more extreme than reality and our reality is based on how we choose to view the moment.  How we choose to view the moment may vary wildly given time and new perspective.