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Friday, August 20, 2010

Proverb; Or so they say

Sai Weng Shi Ma, Yan Zhi Fei Fu

Translation:

Frontier Old Man Lose Horse, Yet To Know Not Blessing

If this is a proverb, it sure sounds very cryptic. Puzzled as I was, I found out that there is actually a very simple meaning to this proverb. It is actually a very old Chinese proverb, taught to me by non other than my Mandarin "Lao Shi" (which means teacher by the way).

There is a story to the proverb. A very, very long time ago, there was an old man who lived by the border part of China. As y'all know, in the olden days, living by the border means than you might be susceptible to attacks now and then. This old man reared horses and one day, one of his horses went missing. The whole village was in uproar over the missing horse and being nice and caring villagers that they are, they all decided to visit the old man and of course to help out in any way that they can. To their surprise, when they muttered words of sympathy to the old man, the old man looked pretty calm and was not even showing the slightest remorse over the lost. Of course in the olden days, a horse was considered to be a prime asset indeed as it can be used to trade for meat as well as a means of transportation.

To the villagers surprise, the very next day, the lost horse came back and with it, it brought another five horses. Indeed the old man received a blessing for the loss as the horse brought back even more horses after it went missing. As the old man had five new horses, the old man's son decided to tame the new horses. Unfortunately, in the process of taming the new horses, the old man's son fell off the horse and was trampled. He ended up with crippled legs due to the accident. Once again, the villagers grouped off to visit the old man and offer him comfort. To their surprise (once again), the old man also did not show any remorse towards the condition of his son. Instead, the old man looked up at the sky and muttered about blessings in disguise.

True enough, a few weeks later, their country went to war and with that the government imposed a rule stating that all men (who are in good health) will be recruited for the army. And due to the accident, the old man's son was spared from leaving to war. Indeed the accident was truly a blessing for the old man and his son.

So, the meaning of the proverb after that oh-so-long lesson in history? Whatever that we lose, there might be a blessing in disguise and we might be better off (like the case of the old man) losing it.

Cheerio!


xoxo Fashionista in Action xoxo