Maybe: What’s Good or What’s Bad?

While I was listening to a guided meditation this morning on controlling your emotions to not be so quick to judge what may be “good” or “bad,” I was told a Zen parable about an old farmer. Take a read below:

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

This short parable shows us how nothing in life is ever static, so we must avoid to be so quick to judge anything as good or bad. Learn to accept things as they are, for something that you may consider “bad fortune” today might be a blessing in disguise tomorrow.

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Steal Like An Artist

My good friend Elbert gifted me with 2 books today: STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST and SHOW YOUR WORK! both by Austin Kleon. I started reading STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST first, which is a book written by an artist with the intention of giving advice to his past self. I really resonated with his belief that nothing is really “original” in this world – everything is merely stolen and adapted from previous concepts/ideas. True authentic art, or any ideas for that matter, are stolen from inspiring work and made better or different. I liked this passage the most:

First, you have to figure out who to copy. Second, you have to figure out what to copy.

Who to copy is easy. You copy your heroes – the people you love, the people you’re inspired by, the people you want to be.

What to copy is a little bit trickier. Don’t just steal style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.

The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that  you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds. That’s what you really want – to internalize their way of looking at the world. If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they are coming from, your work will never be more than a knockoff.

 

 

This is not who you are

I’m re-reading the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne which I’ve probably collectively read and watched the documentary over 10 times in my life. It’s transformed my life for personal reasons and was shared with me by a dear friend years ago who’s no longer alive. But I started re-reading it again out of the blue and you always learn something new when re-visiting a book. I like the following passage on your current self being a collection of your past thoughts and that you can always change yourself if you choose.

Most people look at their current state of affairs and they say, “This is who I am.” That’s not who you are. That’s who you were. Let’s say for instance that you don’t have enough money in your bank account, or you don’t have the relationship that you want, or your health and fitness aren’t up to par. That’s not who you are; that’s the residual outcome of your past thoughts and actions. So we’re constantly living in this residual, if you will, of the thoughts and actions we’ve taken in the past. When you look at your current state of affairs and define yourself by that, then you doom yourself to have nothing more than the same in the future.

 

“All that we are is a result of what we have thought.”
– Buddha