Una's Blog


Una’s little world 7. Is this a disaster or an opportunity?




by Una Hearne.

There’s this old zen proverb:

Once upon a time there was an old farmer who had worked his land for many years. One day his horse ran away. When the neighbours heard they said sympathetically ‘Such bad luck!’. ‘Perhaps’ said the farmer.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two wild horses. ‘What great luck!’ the neighbours exclaimed. ‘Perhaps’ replied the farmer.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours sympathised again ‘What terrible misfortune!’. ‘Perhaps’ said the farmer.

The following day, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing the son’s leg was broken, they left him. The neighbours said how lucky for him! ‘Perhaps’ said the farmer…

The message is that events are all connected and are neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’. Good and bad are value judgements we make about events at a point in time. This is usually impossible to appreciate when you are in the middle of dealing with a major life event which feels entirely awful. Thus, I look forward to a time in the future when I can appreciate having ME/CFS. Yeah, SO not there yet!

There was one moment recently though which definitely moved me towards it. A brilliant bit of coaching from my buddy coach, Philomena McCabe. I was describing the frustration of lying on my couch for whole days at a time with a head full of ideas and excitement, and a body that just can’t get up and do anything. Adding a big moan about feeling useless and not contributing to the world.

Philomena listened carefully and fed back what I was saying as a positive question ‘What if, just being you, in this situation, going through this experience, with all your background and knowledge means you have even more unique value to offer?’ I swear I actually felt my brain do an about-turn. I think I got whiplash. It completely interrupted the pattern of my thoughts with a rather startling idea. ‘You mean… this might actually be a good thing?’

Of course, I’m not buying it totally yet, I am after all a human being, I can’t quite imagine what ME/CFS being a good thing would look like exactly. And yet, the effect of the question was to crowbar open my mind a small bit. Hmm. There is a big difference between an open mind and a closed mind. An open mind can recognise opportunities and has the chance to embrace them. A closed mind plods on, never noticing opportunities as they sail gently by. When my head settled back on my shoulders properly, I felt much lighter and even a little hopeful. This might not actually be a disaster. If I focus on taking care of me now, who knows what the future might hold?

Try that question on whatever challenges you are facing at the moment: money worries; destructive relationships; stuck in a job or system you hate; moral dilemma; illness, disability; addiction; lack of direction… whatever it is:

What if being you, going through this experience means you have even more unique value to offer the world?



If you like this blog, please share it, and if you want to receive it straight to your email you can sign up here.

Leave a Comment

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.