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Friday, October 17, 2014

May Be

Written by  Ava Barron-Shasho, MSW

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. “May be,” the farmer replied.

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

Life can be hard. Often we hear people complain about something in their lives only to find out what they thought was a curse ends up being a blessing. And of course there are the “blessings” that end up causing us problems as well.

Some clients seek out my services after surviving a battle with cancer. They express their anger at being diagnosed at a young age or loosing a breast to the beast. They explore their fears and trepidations. “I will never be the same. I exercised and ate healthy and my body let me down.” Through their sobs I listen. “Why is this happening to me? It’s not fair.” They are right. It’s not fair. The disease of cancer, or any other for that matter, doesn’t factor “fair” into the equation before infecting someone. As a therapist and life coach I am patient. It takes time but usually people come back and say “Had it not been for my illness, I would not have improved my relationship with my parents” or “Having cancer gave me the courage to finally make that career change I hand only dreamed of doing.” Or “While having cancer was like dying everyday, it has proved to me how strong I am and as a result I feel I can face anything.” It’s that quiet voice that says, “May be” that keeps my eyes on the future to see how it will all unfold.

There is also the reverse scenario. Take for example the Evelyn Adams. Evelyn won the New Jersey Lottery not once but twice! Unlike Miss Adams, the best I can do is win $5 on a scratch off. Between 1985 and 1986, she won over $5.4 million. Currently, Evelyn lives in a trailer (and not a double wide, mind you) and is flat broke. I imagine her friends told her after hitting the lottery, how lucky she was and then I hear the faint whisper of the wind saying…well may be. Evelyn admits to having a gambling addiction and a gambler can lose their money faster than any other addict… and she lost it all.

One of the biggest problems we encounter in our society is that we want to know the outcome of a situation and we want to have all the information yesterday. We don’t like to be told we have to wait for the test results or “we will get back to you.” We like things “buttoned and bowed.” Wrap it up so I can plan my next move. The old farmer was wise enough to be patient and observe overtime how the story would unfold. While many of us want to know “just what does this mean in my life right now and how will this effect me long-term,” we need to be patient and wise and realize it might be too early to tell. Living with uncertainty can be uncomfortable and scary. It’s like waiting for the other “shoe to drop.” Well, I have news for you, the other shoe will drop and that shoe might be better or worse than your current situation. So practice patience and try to live in the now. It will help. Of this I am sure.


Ava Barron-Shasho, MSW, is a life and relationship coach, certifed by the International Coach Federation, and welcomes your feedback ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

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