For her birthday last year our friends got Zen an adorable storybook called “Zen Shorts” in which a lovable panda tells three young children Zen Buddhist-inspired parables. My personal favorite goes something like this:
A farmer’s horse ran away.
‘Oh what bad luck!’ declared his neighbors.
‘Maybe,’ he simply replied.
The horse returned the next day and was followed by two wild horses.
‘Oh what good luck!’ said his neighbors.
‘Maybe,’ said the farmer.
His son tried to ride one of the wild horses. It bucked him off, and his leg broke.
‘Oh what bad luck!’ exclaimed his neighbors.
‘Maybe,’ he responded.
The army came to conscript soldiers, and the farmer’s injured son was passed by.
‘Oh what good luck!’ his neighbors said.
‘Maybe,’ he replied….
This short story teaches us that perspective is more significant than the event itself, or put even more simply, events are not good or bad—they just are. “Zen” is actually a nickname for a family name which was actually supposed to be our daughter’s middle name. However, her moniker is a wonderful and simple daily reminder to think/do/live simply.
It has come in very handy recently. I was planning two birthday parties for Zen, and I was being thrown a baby shower as well. I am in my third trimester, and although I feel every additional missed hour of sleep, pound gained, and new miserable side effect of late pregnancy, I was looking forward to leaving work nearly a month before my due date to rest up and spent time with my daughter.
Oh what good luck!
Meanwhile, I was already bracing myself at work for the busiest two-week period in the last three years. I was the project manager of a complicated and politically-charged deal that needed to close. A few weeks prior the co-worker who was going to take over my projects while I was on maternity leave went on extended medical leave, leaving me burdened with a workload I had previously passed off. And then to top it all off, I was issued a layoff notice on March 5.
Oh what bad luck!
I notified my friends and colleagues that evening, and the next morning I had two potential job offers. The following week I had two interviews and two leads on jobs within the agency I was already working for. Yesterday I received three job offers and one pending job offer.
March has been the craziest month of my life. It has been overwhelming, frightening, thrilling—all wrapped up in one. Upon hearing that the state had dissolved redevelopment and essentially decimated my entire industry last year, I have been riding a roller coaster of emotion. I spent nearly six months unsuccessfully looking for a job before I just decided to get pregnant, but it wasn’t until I had an actual job loss that I would face a flurry of job offers.
Perhaps it’s not by chance that the name we’ve selected for our son means “bravery in the face of adversity.” Like Zen, his name will hopefully provide a daily reminder to carry on throughout life’s trials with confidence and grace.