Skip to content

I have always had a fondness for inspiring legends or tales that have a nugget of wisdom attached. I recall a Chinese tale from Huai Nanzi about an old man who lost a horse. This fable seems very relevant in today’s world:

One night the horse broke out of its pen and ran away. The man’s son cried, “Father, our prized horse has run away! How could this happen? This must be the worst day of our lives!”

The father smiled and calmly replied, “Is that so? Are you so certain?”

Shortly after the horse came back and along with the single horse came many more and now the poor farmer had a herd of horses. The son happily exclaimed, “Father, our horse has brought us more horses than I ever thought we could have! This is the greatest day of our lives!”

The wise father smiled and said calmly, “Is that so? Are you so certain?”

The next morning the son got up early to try and ride one of the new horses. He was bucked off and broke his leg. The farmer’s son said, “Father, I have broken my leg and now I cannot work in the fields. We may lose our crops. This is the worst day of my life.”

The father smiled and calmly replied, “Is that so? Are you so certain?”

Then war broke out in the state and the government sent soldiers to all the villages to recruit the young men for their front lines. They came to the farmer’s home for his son. They took the horses from him but upon seeing the son’s broken leg they did not take him. After the soldiers had left the village with all the other young men the farmer’s wife said, “This is the happiest day of our lives.”

The father smiled and calmly replied, “Is that so? Are you so certain?”

The road of life has all kinds of twists and turns that are unforeseen. What may look like the worst of times may provide the opportunity for something else. At the same time those times when things look like they are all going smoothly can get derailed.

No one is immune to the highs and lows of life. Those who do best are the ones who know how to handle both in moderation and do not over react when in deep valleys or high peaks.

By understanding moderation one is free from the bonds that can lead to an emotional roller coaster ride. The middle road does not mean to turn your emotions off but rather recognize the power one has in themselves to separate from the circumstances one faces. These two are not the same thing.

Once this occurs, outside circumstances, good or bad, are not as climatic and dismal. They are just circumstances. You become empowered. You become wise.

Remember, what seems like misfortune may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Avatar photo

Ted Ning is the Executive Director of the LOHAS Conference, Executive Editor of the LOHAS Journal and Ted promotes the expansion and awareness of this marketplace and is in a unique position to examine trends and is able to identify overlapping interests from various LOHAS market sectors. He is also able to provide perspective about how responsible business practice should be presented and branded to the consumer. Furthermore, he can provide case study examples of companies that have transformed their business operations to become ‘green’ which have resulted in profitability and healthier work environments. Ted has been with LOHAS for 6 years and has been invited to speak internationally about the market to Universities, private and public companies and other business conferences. He has been interviewed by journalists from The New York Times, NBC, New Yorker, InStyle, Newsweek, various regional newspapers and lifestyle oriented radio programs. He is a contributing writer to Spa Business, American Spa magazine and Organic Style Taiwan. He also serves on several boards promoting sustainability, organic living and micro-credit enterprises.

Ted grew up in the mountains of Colorado where his family developed a nonprofit that helps impoverished women in Vietnam and Guatemala through micro credit financing and currently has over 5,000 loans in the field. He has been involved in community outreach and nonprofit work from a young age. He has a Masters degree in adult education. He has lived overseas in Asia where he assisted in nonprofit work and studied Chinese. He also lived in Japan and was a ski coach during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. He and his wife currently reside outside of Boulder Colorado where he walks his talk; he rides his bike to work, is a member of a community supported organic farm where he gets his meals, recycles and composts to reduce their waste, and lives in a green built home powered by solar.

For more information, please visit

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. What a wonderful piece of literature and a lesson to be learned by all ! Thank you so very much – this could not have come to me at a better time ! As I am going through lots of trials and tribulations over a blood clot surgery on my daughter. Equipment not in the medical facilities when surgery is scheduled, doctor out of country when clot starts forming again for the second time. And the twists and turns keep coming. I will have to read this over and over again !

  2. Great story and very true. After I overheard a conversation with my deranged wife plotting my murder wit a hit man in 2009, I fled the country and came to Peru. I subsequently created a non-profit organization that is currently serving over 2000 children in destitution, called Changes for New Hope and as far as I am concerned I never had a bad day since. Victories from disasters are available to us all.

    1. Wow Jim – that is horrible about the wife – but GREAT about your organization ! Keep up the good work and the victories ahead – blessings to you !

  3. How true!! This tale is like the never ending struggles we all face in this life; but if one remains calm and doesn’t act in haste, it turns out for our good and we can learn a lesson from the details.

  4. Similar to the moral of the saying-“Be careful of what you wish for because you just might get it”. Trusting in the provisions of God is always the best path for our spiritual health and learning temperance and discernment is part of a fulfilling life. Learning to live in the unknowns in life is healthy because we evolve more spiritually and more authentic.

  5. Thank you. It is a great story that remind us, that there are always two sides in the life journey; it is up to us to be able to see it,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *