The Story of the Old Chinese Farmer

A wise tale about a Chinese farmer.


4/6/20242 min read

An old Chinese farmer and his son worked together on their radish farm. The son was the one doing most of the physical labor, as the farmer was getting older and couldn't do as much as he used to. One day, something unexpected happened that would test their resilience and perspective.

It started when their work horse suddenly ran away. The son rushed into the house, waking up his father with a sense of urgency. "Dad, this is a tragedy!" he exclaimed. "I have to turn the land over to grow radishes, but the horse ran away. It ran up the hill. I don't know how we're going to survive. This is bad luck!"

The old farmer, unfazed by his son's distress, simply replied, "Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I don't know, I can't call it."

The son continued to work diligently, turning the land with a shovel. A few days later, to their surprise, the horse returned. But it didn't come alone. It was leading a herd of wild horses behind it. The son quickly opened the gate and let them all in, filled with excitement and joy.

As the herd of wild horses settled in, the son couldn't contain his enthusiasm. He ran into the house and exclaimed to his father, "Dad, this is amazing! The horse came back, and it brought more horses with it. We're going to be rich! This is the best luck we've ever had!"

The old farmer, with his calm demeanor, replied once again, "Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I don't know, I can't call it."

Days turned into weeks, and the son took on the task of taming and training the wild horses. In the process, he ended up breaking his leg. The son hobbled into the house, frustrated and in pain. He said to his father, "Dad, this is terrible! I broke my leg while trying to tame one of the wild horses. Now I can't work on the farm, and we won't be able to take care of the radishes. This is such bad luck!"

The old farmer, still maintaining his perspective, calmly replied, "Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I don't know, I can't call it."

Weeks went by, and a war broke out in the country. Soldiers from the neighboring region came to the village, forcefully recruiting young men to join the battle. However, when they saw the son with his broken leg, they deemed him unfit for service and left him and his father behind.

The son, realizing the potential danger they had narrowly escaped, rushed to his father and said, "Dad, you were right! Breaking my leg was actually a stroke of luck. If I hadn't been injured, I would have been taken away to fight in the war. This is the best luck we could have asked for!"

Once again, the old farmer calmly replied, "Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I don't know, I can't call it."

The story of the old Chinese farmer teaches us a valuable lesson about the unpredictability of life and the importance of maintaining a balanced perspective. It reminds us that what may seem like misfortune at first could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, and vice versa. It encourages us to embrace the uncertainties and challenges that come our way, knowing that we cannot fully predict the outcome.

So the next time life throws you a curveball, remember the old Chinese farmer and his wise words: "Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I don't know, I can't call it."




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