Things that inspire me to simply say...WTF??
DECEMBER 12, 2010 7:12AM

Sunday Zen: "Maybe"

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While traveling to Fergus Falls, Minnesota to celebrate Thanksgiving, I ran into a snowstorm.  This is was not a major storm but enough to leave roads somewhat snow covered and icy.  Twice I nearly stopped to hunker down at a motel thinking I could continue my trip the next morning.  However, even while driving cautiously, I was making good time, the roads were not that bad and I seemingly could push through.

That is until I drove onto a bridge outside St. Cloud, Minnesota.

With the combination of darkness, cold and precipitation, I could not see that the bridge was masquerading as an ice hockey rink.  So, once all four tires were on the bridge, I began a series of spins that left me bouncing off a guard rail, back out onto I-94, where by now two following cars were sliding in an attempt to stop from hitting me.

Thankfully, the two vehicles were far enough behind me that hitting me was not a threat.  Besides, the motor of my vehicle still ran, which meant I was propelled into the snow covered median where I came to a rather gentle stop.

Though shaken, I was fine.  And while this was all certainly an pain-in-the-ass, leading eventually to the insurance company totaling my cherished Ford Explorer, my son and I managed to walk into his home around two in the morning - grateful, hungry and tired.

Upon returning to Davenport, Iowa a few days later, I recounted my experience to my breakfast pals, one of whom is a long time student of Zen who delights in reminding me of Zen stories that over the years we have both heard and read.

Of course, I was telling the tale from the perspective of one who had been bitten by another of Life's unfairness and injustices. 

True to form, with his Cheshire Cat like smile he looked at me and with an economy of words that is his character, he simply said, "Maybe."

Here is that to which my cantankerous, pain-in-the-ass friend was referring.


 Once upon the time there was 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.




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Thankful that you are without physical harm and enlightened by a charming Zen parable, I step out to take on my day! With gratitude...
I think you've recognized the wisdom in your friend, maybe.
Zen. Karma is strange stuff.
Loved the farmer's tale..
I know that story. I have it and have read it to my children many times. Isn't it the truth?
I think I needed to be reminded of that did you know?
Thanks Robert!
AND I'm so glad you are ok!!
Maybe. Maybe that needs to be posted all over my desk. Maybe....
Those Zen parables are always so wonderful, maybe.
So happy that you were not hurt in the accident and that is no maybe.
rated with love
Bhudda lives

stop thee advance of the 451s
I love this story, I read it some years ago, and glad to remember it. I blogged my journey from Sioux Falls to Minoqua, WI the week of Thanksgiving, through the storms, and then back again some days later. My "saving grace" was turning on my Zencasts on the iPod (I was a passenger, not driver) and just tuning into the landscape and weather and becoming comfortable with it. Still, there were some dicey times, and we saw many people off the road. (See, Claustragoraphobia series). Glad you are safe. I was thinking of the MN Zen center, wishing it was at our rest stops along the way.
Great story! I read it out loud to my two teenage daughters . . . :)
that aphorism actually continues longer involving the war as I recall. yep, nice find
the japanese have a saying.
"the reverse side also has a reverse side"